The recently completed protection of the 206 acre Scamman Farm achieves the shared goals of the landowner, the Town of Stratham and the Southeast Land Trust. For the Scammans, the conservation easements allow the land to remain in family ownership, to be a working farm, and to honor the long agricultural legacy of the Scamman family.
For the Town of Stratham and its citizens, the protection of the Scamman Farm captures the spirit of the Town’s Open Space Bond, passed back in 2002. Many may remember that Town Meeting overwhelmingly supporting the proposed bond that made this possible. In fact, many thought of the Scamman Farm as the iconic Stratham landscape to be protected by the bond.
And for the Southeast Land Trust, the preservation of Scamman Farm continues its commitment to conserving the special places of Rockingham County, places that provide local food, clean water, wildlife habitat, and nearby recreational opportunities. To date, the Land Trust has conserved more than 7,000 acres of open space.
As we all celebrate, there are a few aspects of this achievement to highlight. The Scamman family remains the owner of this land. They are free to sell it and use it in ways consistent with the conservation easement. This landscape of hay, corn and pumpkins will forever be available for farming, the woods for forestry and hiking, and wetlands for clean water and wildlife habitat.
The Town of Stratham and the Land Trust do not own the Scamman Farm, but hold the conservation easements on the property, and have distinct roles in ensuring that current and future owners manage and use the land consistent with the restrictions. The Land Trust will annually visit the property, observe its condition and uses, report its findings to the Town, and if necessary, enforce its provisions. The Land Trust is, in essence, protecting the substantial investment made by Stratham.
Through the generosity of the family, the easements include unique provisions that provide additional benefit to the Town. First, they ensure public access for outdoor activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, and hunting. As may be expected with a working farm, the public’s access is subject to sensible limitations, including the ability of the landowners to prohibit access during the agricultural growing season or during a timber harvest, so as to protect the hayfields, crops and the safety of visitors. Please see this factsheet on allowed uses of Scamman Farm. If you are interested in visiting the property, please respect any signs limiting access and do not walk across plowed or planted fields. More information will be posted at Town Hall and www.seltnh.org over the coming months.
Second, the Scammans have granted groundwater withdrawal rights to the Town, allowing the Town the ability to pursue a public water supply system. The easement provides guidance to ensure that this right won’t impact the farm or the key natural resources of the land.
The Scamman Farm builds on a legacy of land protection, led by leaders like Gordon Barker and Caroline Robinson, facilitated by a cadre of volunteers and Town and Land Trust staff, and made possible by farsighted landowners like Sally Sanderson, the Wiggins, Goodriches, Jones, Zarnowskis and others who agreed that conserving their land was a commitment worth making. We thank the US Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, which provided significant funding toward the purchase of these easements, and the voters of the Town of Stratham for their support and commitment to open space protection. Together, we’ve made the protection of the Scamman Farm and hundreds of acres of open land in Stratham a reality today.
This was originally written as an op-ed by landowner Doug Scamman, David Canada, Town of Stratham Board of Selectmen, Brian Hart of the Southeast Land Trust and submitted and printed by the Exeter News-Letter and Fosters Daily Democrat.