Cause to conserve

BROOKLINE – For more than half a century, state and local conservation groups have been eyeing two pieces of riverfront property along the Nissitissit River in Brookline.

The parcels, owned by the Austin and Martin families and farmed for generations, are on both sides of the meandering river near the Bohannon Bridge. They total 78 acres.

"It’s no exaggeration. It’s been in our eyes for 50 years," said Pete Smith, natural resources manager for the Beaver Brook Association, one of several organizations that are raising money to buy the property.

Beaver Brook and the Brookline Conservation Commission have joined forces with several other conservation groups in looking for grants and donations: the Nissitissit Land Trust, the Nashua River Watershed Association, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Trout Unlimited.

There is some urgency now. The parcels are ripe for development, and there are engineering plans for 18 house sites, said Drew Kellner, of the Brookline Conservation Commission.

"This is the most important conservation project in 30 years," he said. "By protecting a half mile of meandering river, you are essentially protecting a mile of shoreline."

Smith and Kellner point to a 1967 report from the state Department of Resources and Economic Development that stresses the importance of the river and riverbank.

In its yellowing pages, the report says there is a need for a "concerted effort and organized program" to preserve the Nissitissit.

Three million people live within 40 miles of the river, it says, and, "It is unusual today to find a stream still in an undeveloped, natural condition so close to large population centers."

The 1967 DRED report says the Nissitissit ranks fourth in areas of New Hampshire that need to be protected, calling it a "quiet clear stream that winds through wooded valleys and open marsh" before it enters the Nashua River, a river that "has a beautiful clean pebbly base with attractive vegetation, including white pine, mountain laurel, and other wild flowers along its banks.

"Native brook trout, as well as stocked trout, are to be found in its waters. Wood duck, teal, American merganser, and black duck nest in the river valley, while mink, otter, beaver and deer are often seen."

Since 1967, a few houses have been built near the river. But luckily, Kellner said, not much haschanged, because the report, "along with the deplorable condition of the Nashua River, was the catalyst for local groups to get moving on protecting areas along the river.

"These two parcels were not able to be protected, so they are an extremely important section to protect."

Kellner and Smith expect support for the purchase from people who enjoy fishing and boating on the river.

The commission would like to create an area for a "car-top" boat launch, probably at the section of the river where there is significant bank erosion, they said. Brookline has received $89,000 for bank resortation from the state Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation fund.

There is also local interest in having a community garden on a small portion of the property.

For hikers, the land is important because it would connect to other conservation land, town sidewalks and to the rail trail, they said.

"The goal is to get on the rail trail in Milford and get all the way to Massachusetts," Kellner said.

Much of the property is wetland and "extremely important in terms of water quality and wildlife," putting it in the highest tier of the state’s wildlife action plan, said Kellner, who is also a trustee for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Nissitissit’s headwaters are in Lake Potanipo. The 9-mile river runs south into Massachusetts, with about 4.5 miles in Brookline and Hollis.

So far the commission has raised $280,000 toward the purchase, and wants to raise another $200,000 before Brookline’s Town Meeting, when voters will be asked to approve a $1.2 million bond.

A municipal conservation commission can’t legally bond a land purchase, but plans call for all payments to come from the commission.

But that doesn’t mean taxpayers will be footing the bill, Smith and Kellner say. The goal is to keep the bonded portion down to $700,000 with a combination of fundraising and grants.

"But Town Meeting will have to approve the full amount, as some of the grants won’t pay until after" the sale goes through, Kellner said.

The commission receives 100 percent of the town’s Land Use Change Tax (LUCT), the payments from developers who take property out of current use, and that money will go toward bond payments.

If there are years when there are no LUCT payments, the town would be responsible for the payments, with the commission paying back the town the next year.

"The goal is not to raise taxes," Kellner said. "As long as deposits of LUCT payments are sufficient, the town should not have a tax impact, as the commission would cover it."

Brookline’s average LUCT yearly payment over five years was about $120,850, although the commission expects that to go down to about $75,000 in coming years because of a slower pace of development, Kellner said.

The Nissitissit River Land Trust and Beaver Brook Association have pledged financial support and are also donating parcels of land to the project.

Brookline selectmen’s Chairman Darrell Philpot said the board has been briefed by the Conservation Commission and will make a decision on whether to support the project based on its value to the community and to New Hampshire.

If the land is purchased, the Piscataquog Land Trust will hold the easement, protecting the land forever.

Chris Wells, the trust’s executive director, said its members have"a huge admiration for all the town has done to apply for all kinds of grants and for pulling together the real estate deal.

"This is a piece they have had their eyes on for a long time – one of the last puzzle pieces for conservation land in Brookline."

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Cause to conserve

BROOKLINE – For more than half a century, state and local conservation groups have been eyeing two pieces of riverfront property along the Nissitissit River in Brookline.

The parcels, owned by the Austin and Martin families and farmed for generations, are on both sides of the meandering river near the Bohannon Bridge. They total 78 acres.

"It’s no exaggeration. It’s been in our eyes for 50 years," said Pete Smith, natural resources manager for the Beaver Brook Association, one of several organizations that are raising money to buy the property.

Beaver Brook and the Brookline Conservation Commission have joined forces with several other conservation groups in looking for grants and donations: the Nissitissit Land Trust, the Nashua River Watershed Association, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Trout Unlimited.

There is some urgency now. The parcels are ripe for development, and there are engineering plans for 18 house sites, said Drew Kellner, of the Brookline Conservation Commission.

"This is the most important conservation project in 30 years," he said. "By protecting a half mile of meandering river, you are essentially protecting a mile of shoreline."

Smith and Kellner point to a 1967 report from the state Department of Resources and Economic Development that stresses the importance of the river and riverbank.

In its yellowing pages, the report says there is a need for a "concerted effort and organized program" to preserve the Nissitissit.

Three million people live within 40 miles of the river, it says, and, "It is unusual today to find a stream still in an undeveloped, natural condition so close to large population centers."

The 1967 DRED report says the Nissitissit ranks fourth in areas of New Hampshire that need to be protected, calling it a "quiet clear stream that winds through wooded valleys and open marsh" before it enters the Nashua River, a river that "has a beautiful clean pebbly base with attractive vegetation, including white pine, mountain laurel, and other wild flowers along its banks.

"Native brook trout, as well as stocked trout, are to be found in its waters. Wood duck, teal, American merganser, and black duck nest in the river valley, while mink, otter, beaver and deer are often seen."

Since 1967, a few houses have been built near the river. But luckily, Kellner said, not much haschanged, because the report, "along with the deplorable condition of the Nashua River, was the catalyst for local groups to get moving on protecting areas along the river.

"These two parcels were not able to be protected, so they are an extremely important section to protect."

Kellner and Smith expect support for the purchase from people who enjoy fishing and boating on the river.

The commission would like to create an area for a "car-top" boat launch, probably at the section of the river where there is significant bank erosion, they said. Brookline has received $89,000 for bank resortation from the state Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation fund.

There is also local interest in having a community garden on a small portion of the property.

For hikers, the land is important because it would connect to other conservation land, town sidewalks and to the rail trail, they said.

"The goal is to get on the rail trail in Milford and get all the way to Massachusetts," Kellner said.

Much of the property is wetland and "extremely important in terms of water quality and wildlife," putting it in the highest tier of the state’s wildlife action plan, said Kellner, who is also a trustee for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Nissitissit’s headwaters are in Lake Potanipo. The 9-mile river runs south into Massachusetts, with about 4.5 miles in Brookline and Hollis.

So far the commission has raised $280,000 toward the purchase, and wants to raise another $200,000 before Brookline’s Town Meeting, when voters will be asked to approve a $1.2 million bond.

A municipal conservation commission can’t legally bond a land purchase, but plans call for all payments to come from the commission.

But that doesn’t mean taxpayers will be footing the bill, Smith and Kellner say. The goal is to keep the bonded portion down to $700,000 with a combination of fundraising and grants.

"But Town Meeting will have to approve the full amount, as some of the grants won’t pay until after" the sale goes through, Kellner said.

The commission receives 100 percent of the town’s Land Use Change Tax (LUCT), the payments from developers who take property out of current use, and that money will go toward bond payments.

If there are years when there are no LUCT payments, the town would be responsible for the payments, with the commission paying back the town the next year.

"The goal is not to raise taxes," Kellner said. "As long as deposits of LUCT payments are sufficient, the town should not have a tax impact, as the commission would cover it."

Brookline’s average LUCT yearly payment over five years was about $120,850, although the commission expects that to go down to about $75,000 in coming years because of a slower pace of development, Kellner said.

The Nissitissit River Land Trust and Beaver Brook Association have pledged financial support and are also donating parcels of land to the project.

Brookline selectmen’s Chairman Darrell Philpot said the board has been briefed by the Conservation Commission and will make a decision on whether to support the project based on its value to the community and to New Hampshire.

If the land is purchased, the Piscataquog Land Trust will hold the easement, protecting the land forever.

Chris Wells, the trust’s executive director, said its members have"a huge admiration for all the town has done to apply for all kinds of grants and for pulling together the real estate deal.

"This is a piece they have had their eyes on for a long time – one of the last puzzle pieces for conservation land in Brookline."

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.

Cause to conserve

BROOKLINE – For more than half a century, state and local conservation groups have been eyeing two pieces of riverfront property along the Nissitissit River in Brookline.

The parcels, owned by the Austin and Martin families and farmed for generations, are on both sides of the meandering river near the Bohannon Bridge. They total 78 acres.

"It’s no exaggeration. It’s been in our eyes for 50 years," said Pete Smith, natural resources manager for the Beaver Brook Association, one of several organizations that are raising money to buy the property.

Beaver Brook and the Brookline Conservation Commission have joined forces with several other conservation groups in looking for grants and donations: the Nissitissit Land Trust, the Nashua River Watershed Association, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Trout Unlimited.

There is some urgency now. The parcels are ripe for development, and there are engineering plans for 18 house sites, said Drew Kellner, of the Brookline Conservation Commission.

"This is the most important conservation project in 30 years," he said. "By protecting a half mile of meandering river, you are essentially protecting a mile of shoreline."

Smith and Kellner point to a 1967 report from the state Department of Resources and Economic Development that stresses the importance of the river and riverbank.

In its yellowing pages, the report says there is a need for a "concerted effort and organized program" to preserve the Nissitissit.

Three million people live within 40 miles of the river, it says, and, "It is unusual today to find a stream still in an undeveloped, natural condition so close to large population centers."

The 1967 DRED report says the Nissitissit ranks fourth in areas of New Hampshire that need to be protected, calling it a "quiet clear stream that winds through wooded valleys and open marsh" before it enters the Nashua River, a river that "has a beautiful clean pebbly base with attractive vegetation, including white pine, mountain laurel, and other wild flowers along its banks.

"Native brook trout, as well as stocked trout, are to be found in its waters. Wood duck, teal, American merganser, and black duck nest in the river valley, while mink, otter, beaver and deer are often seen."

Since 1967, a few houses have been built near the river. But luckily, Kellner said, not much haschanged, because the report, "along with the deplorable condition of the Nashua River, was the catalyst for local groups to get moving on protecting areas along the river.

"These two parcels were not able to be protected, so they are an extremely important section to protect."

Kellner and Smith expect support for the purchase from people who enjoy fishing and boating on the river.

The commission would like to create an area for a "car-top" boat launch, probably at the section of the river where there is significant bank erosion, they said. Brookline has received $89,000 for bank resortation from the state Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation fund.

There is also local interest in having a community garden on a small portion of the property.

For hikers, the land is important because it would connect to other conservation land, town sidewalks and to the rail trail, they said.

"The goal is to get on the rail trail in Milford and get all the way to Massachusetts," Kellner said.

Much of the property is wetland and "extremely important in terms of water quality and wildlife," putting it in the highest tier of the state’s wildlife action plan, said Kellner, who is also a trustee for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

Nissitissit’s headwaters are in Lake Potanipo. The 9-mile river runs south into Massachusetts, with about 4.5 miles in Brookline and Hollis.

So far the commission has raised $280,000 toward the purchase, and wants to raise another $200,000 before Brookline’s Town Meeting, when voters will be asked to approve a $1.2 million bond.

A municipal conservation commission can’t legally bond a land purchase, but plans call for all payments to come from the commission.

But that doesn’t mean taxpayers will be footing the bill, Smith and Kellner say. The goal is to keep the bonded portion down to $700,000 with a combination of fundraising and grants.

"But Town Meeting will have to approve the full amount, as some of the grants won’t pay until after" the sale goes through, Kellner said.

The commission receives 100 percent of the town’s Land Use Change Tax (LUCT), the payments from developers who take property out of current use, and that money will go toward bond payments.

If there are years when there are no LUCT payments, the town would be responsible for the payments, with the commission paying back the town the next year.

"The goal is not to raise taxes," Kellner said. "As long as deposits of LUCT payments are sufficient, the town should not have a tax impact, as the commission would cover it."

Brookline’s average LUCT yearly payment over five years was about $120,850, although the commission expects that to go down to about $75,000 in coming years because of a slower pace of development, Kellner said.

The Nissitissit River Land Trust and Beaver Brook Association have pledged financial support and are also donating parcels of land to the project.

Brookline selectmen’s Chairman Darrell Philpot said the board has been briefed by the Conservation Commission and will make a decision on whether to support the project based on its value to the community and to New Hampshire.

If the land is purchased, the Piscataquog Land Trust will hold the easement, protecting the land forever.

Chris Wells, the trust’s executive director, said its members have"a huge admiration for all the town has done to apply for all kinds of grants and for pulling together the real estate deal.

"This is a piece they have had their eyes on for a long time – one of the last puzzle pieces for conservation land in Brookline."

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.