Vote ‘Yes’ to save Birch Hill, Rocky Pond

To the Editor:

On March 12 at the Hollis Town Meeting, the residents of Hollis have the opportunity to protect Birch Hill.

This forested property of 354 acres, accessible from Federal Hill Road or Hayden Road, is the largest parcel of undeveloped land that has been presented by the Land Protection Study Committee. The price is $2.1 million, which works out to $5,975 an acre plus associated closing costs estimated to not to be above $150,000. The assessed value for this property is $2.875 million, and the owners have reduced the price for this property by $650,000 for purchase by the town.

In a unanimous vote, the Hollis Trails Committee declared Birch Hill the No. 1 parcel to protect in order to preserve the greenway, trails, water protection and wildlife habitat. Birch Hill has miles of multi-use trails enjoyed by hikers, snowmobilers, horseback riders, mountain bicyclists, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, dog walkers, bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts. This parcel also has great potential for a town sledding hill.

For those who want the less traveled trails, there are many smaller nature trails that wander through the property. This property connects trails to other established conservation areas: Monson Village, a Society of the Protection of New Hampshire Forests property, Brookline Conservation land, as well as the Hollis Town Forest, and it is close to Beaver Brook Association trails. The multi-use trails are currently maintained, at no cost to the town of Hollis, by the Hollis Nor’Easters snowmobile club, and should the town purchase the land, the club will continue to do so.

Birch Hill has the highest wildlife habitat rating from New Hampshire Fish and Game. It is common when hiking to come across tracks from moose, bear, bobcats and many other animals. Birch Hill is the highest point in Hollis, and on a clear day looking southeast, you can see the top of the Prudential Center in Boston. Rocky Pond Hill provides a beautiful view of Rocky Pond and points south and west.

If this property gets developed, a Phase 1 on Hayden Road conceptual plan details 80 houses. A Phase 2 off Federal Hill Road could support many additional homes, as the 354 acres is a very large tract. If this property were to be built out, the increase in population to our town could be over 200 residents, equaling additional estimated 400-plus vehicles a day on our roads and a rise in the town services we all pay for.

Birch Hill is the groundwater supply for two critical aquifers. Water protection, as well as rural character, was voted as a top priority for the residents of Hollis in the 2015 Master Plan Survey.

The Hollis Board of Selectmen and Budget Committee unanimously recommended the purchase of this property.

Vote Yes on Warrant Article 2 to save Birch Hill and Warrant Article 3 to save Rocky Pond. Hollis residents can attend the Hollis Town Meeting Saturday March 12, at 10 a.m. at Hollis Brookline High School and vote to protect these important pieces of land.

Sherry Wyskiel

Chairwoman

Hollis Trails Committee