Reader Submitted

History of the Bedford Land Trust

Friday, January 24, 2014

By RITA CARROLL

Special to the Journal

Since its inception, the Bedford Land Trust has worked to identify ways to preserve Bedford’s rural character and unique qualities.

The Bedford Land Trust is truly a grassroots organization, which like many land trusts, was born around a kitchen table – well, actually on a back porch! It all began when Linda Hockman (1942-1997) learned about land trusts and dreamed of Bedford having its own.

She, like many others, was concerned about the loss of many of New Hampshire’s productive lands and open spaces, particularly here in the southern part of the state.

She wrote an article that appeared in the March 28, 1990, issue of the Bedford Bulletin and asked individuals interested in the idea of Bedford forming a land trust to contact her. She also spoke to people she knew in town who were interested in the environment and in preserving Bedford’s unique qualities.

She then called a meeting at her home on May 9, 1990, to discuss the possibility of forming a land trust. Those who attended became the Founding Committee: Richard Galway, Linda Hockman, Ann and Jeff Nelson, Barbara Tufts, Susan Tufts Moore, Donna and Bill Whittaker and Lynn Willscher. The committee understood that people are attracted to and move to Bedford as a result of its beautiful, rural character.

They saw an important need to preserve some of the open spaces in town, a need that was also identified in the Bedford Master Plan adopted in September 1990, which specifically recommended the identification and protection of more conservation land.

The BLT began its work in its first year and a half by drafting and adopting Articles of Agreement and By-Laws, as well as by registering with the state of New Hampshire as a nonprofit corporation on Oct. 1, 1990. An enthusiastic board of trustees was formed along with several active committees, all of which continue to meet regularly to this day.

The permanent protection of more than 700 acres of land by the BLT began with an initial campaign to protect one of the largest parcels of Bedford’s 4.5 miles of frontage on the Merrimack River.

On December 30, 1993, 10 beautiful acres of land were protected through a conservation easement granted to the Bedford Land Trust, and the land itself was donated to the town of Bedford.

Like all of the other conservation easements that the BLT now holds, the conservation easement on this property ensures that this land shall be retained forever in its undeveloped, scenic and open space condition so that its plant and wildlife habitat are not impaired.

This project was the BLT’s first of many examples of public/private cooperation in protecting open space in Bedford.

In 1997, the Bedford Land Trust and the town of Bedford honored Linda Hockman by naming this 10-acre parcel of land along the Merrimack River the Linda Moore Hockman Park and Sanctuary.

The land was named after her in recognition of her many contributions to conservation, including her founding of the Bedford Land Trust.

Since then, the BLT has worked with private landowners and the town to protect more than 700 acres of land in Bedford.

For more information on each of the 14 properties we protect, visit the BLT’s website at www.bedford
landtrust.org/Properties.html
. We are available to work with private landowners and other entities that are motivated to protect land. Our 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization status from the Internal Revenue Service makes all contributions to the BLT tax-deductible.

We are grateful to Linda Hockman and the original Founding Committee for their vision and hard work. We are very fortunate that they saw an important need to preserve the beautiful, rural character of our town and we are honored to continue their work in conserving land for the multiple benefits that open space provides to us all.

Rita Carroll is chairwoman of the Bedford Land Trust.

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