Depending on the landowner's desires and the natural resources of the property, the Southeast Land Trust protects land by holding conservation easements and by owning land. To date, we have protected more than 100 properties totaling over 5,750 acres of land through conservation easements.
The Southeast Land Trust also conserves land by owning it, and to date, has protected more than 1,400 acres this way. These lands are managed for a variety of natural resources and purposes, from water quality to wildlife to outdoor recreation.
Gilman Park, often referred to affectionately as "The Cannons" by Exeter residents, was permanently conserved and passed from private to public ownership on September 19, 2012.
With the signing of a deed to the Town of Exeter and an easement held by the Southeast Land Trust, Gilman Park Trustees Harry Thayer, Martha Pennell, Peter Smith and Joanna Pellerin marked the end of 120 years of ownership by a private, self-perpetuating board of trustees.
The park, a gift from Daniel and Minnie Gilman, was deeded on July 12, 1892 for the sum of $1 to five trustees who were to choose their successors in perpetuity. The Gilmans' wish as recorded in the original deed was that the park be kept forever for "the enjoyment of the people of Exeter." This 120-year chain of trust began with Trustees Rev. George E. Street, William P. Chadwick, William H. C. Follansby, and Henry A. Shute, all leading public figures of the time.
Located at the confluence of the Little River and Exeter River, the park has been well loved and much used over the years. Meeting at the cannons was prelude to annual picnics and outings of church groups, families and clubs. Early on, before the bridge off Gilman Lane was built and well before Bell Avenue existed, groups rowed up from the river to these gatherings. Such an event is hilariously recorded by Judge Henry A. Shute in his book "Brite and Fair." In years with good ice many people met at the cannons to skate the cove. In more recent years the Exeter Recreation Department developed a t-ball field, basketball court, boat launch, and other amenities and took responsibility for their upkeep and maintenance.
It became evident in recent years that privately-owned parks were facing liability issues and because of that the Trustees decided to offer the park to the town with the protection of a conservation easement to ensure that the Gilmans' wishes continued to be honored.
The Trustees placed a petition warrant article supported by the Board of Selectmen on the March 4, 2008 town warrant asking whether the town should buy Gilman Park, subject to a conservation easement, for the sum of $1. The article passed overwhelmingly. The heirs of Daniel and Minnie Gilman agreed that town ownership of the park protected by a conservation easement was acceptable to them and sustained the intent of the original trust. Then, the Trustees promptly set about preparing the easement document with the Southeast Land Trust and petitioning the Attorney General to dissolve the Gilman Park Trust. The petition was granted in August, allowing the final conveyance to the Land Trust and Town.
Now, through the conservation easement held by the Southeast Land Trust and the Town’s ownership, Gilman Park will continue to be enjoyed by generations of Exeter residents.
This article was based on one printed in the Exeter Newsletter on October 9, 2012 and submitted by Joanna Pellerin, former Trustee of Gilman Park and past President of the Board of the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire.
If you have ever driven past 659 Washington Road in Rye, you have most likely have had the sense of going back to our historical roots as you enjoyed the views of the beautiful stone walls, fields, and forest!
The Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire is working with the Town of Rye to permanently protect these 48 acres on Washington Road through the purchase of a conservation easement. The protection of this unique property will prohibit development and protect the natural resources of the property and the watershed. The property will remain in private ownership and the conservation easement will remain in place even if the land is sold in the future.
In 2012, the Southeast Land Trust of NH teamed up with the Town of Rye to permanently protect this scenic property, the total cost of which is $750,000. The Rye Conservation Commission has led the way with a generous commitment of $725,000 from the Town's conservation bond. Neighbors contributed the remaining $25,000 to cover the Land Trust's associated transaction costs and the long-term stewardship of this easement.
• The Washington Road property is comprised of 48+/- acres off of Washington Road and includes hundreds of feet on both sides of Berry’s Brook. Berry's Brook is a unique coastal ecosystem comprised of a 6.2 mile brook, freshwater wetlands, forested uplands, open grasslands, an estuary, and scenic tidal marshland.
• The property’s open fields bounded by stone walls provide a scenic reminder of our rural landscape at the turn of the century, when much of Rye and the region was pasture for sheep and other animals.
• 30 acres overlay a strafied drift aquifer with a high capacity for public drinking water.
• Nearly the entire property is recognized by the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan as being a supporting landscape for core wildlife habitat.
• The property contains 31 acres of productive agricultural soils which are important for ensuring the land remains available for locally grown foods.
• The NH Natural Heritage Bureau has identified threatened and endangered plant and wildlife species known within 1 mile of the Lium property. The spotted turtle (threatened) is a likely visitor and inhabitant of the property.
• The property lies adjacent to more than 120 acres of existing conservation land, enhancing and extending a greenway along this portion of Berry’s Brook.
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