The New Hampshire Forest Society is currently raising money to purchase 227 acres of Powder Major forest from current owner Chuck Gross. This includes 5,100 feet of Oyster River frontage, as well as 84 acres of wetlands; the land is crucial for the drinking water supply for the towns of Durham, Lee and Madbury.
“The Forest Society is seeking to purchase 195 acres of private land outright, then own the rights to develop for the other 32 acres,” N.H. Forest Society Communications Manager Brenda Charpentier said.
Out of the $2.25 million needed to purchase the land, the Forest Society has accrued $1.4 million thus far.
“We’re more than halfway there. The land is highly developmental and has a high market value,” Charpentier said. “But we have had lots of grant support and individuals from the individual towns come forward.”
A portion of the funds come from the Thomas W. Hass fund, a part of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, which has agreed to double every donation that is made up to $100,000.
Also, all three towns have committed funds to the Forest Society in order to support the purchase. However, because the towns voted toward funding the project, Charpentier worries that the people of the towns think that there’s no more fundraising left to do.
“The deadline for the purchase ends at the end of the year,” Charpentier said.
Although they are relatively close to reaching their target, there remains $850,000 left to fundraise.
According to Charpentier, “the Forest Society got its start in 1900 by practicing sustainable methods for conservation that doesn’t harm wetlands.” She said this is achieved through, “selective cutting and responsible harvesting, then taking money made from that toward more conservation efforts.”
“The land will be managed as a community resource,” Charpentier said. “We will conduct inventories to see what resources are here and put into place management programs to protect the resources and evaluate trails and see how they can be used in a safe, harmless way to the environment.”
The purchase of the land will welcome all those who enjoy the outdoors.
“All hikers, dog walkers, horseback riders, bicyclists, hunters, snow-mobiles and fishermen will all be welcome to use the land for recreational use,” Charpentier said.
Further on, Charpentier mentioned the topic of how the land is crucial to the water supply. “Oyster River is the primary drinking source for the three towns, Durham pumps the water straight into campus. In order to keep the water quality high, it’s important that the land next to the river is maintained as a protective buffer,” she said. “If paved over, the rainwater will be restricted from percolating down into the river, and the water that would contain more pollutants and toxins.”