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Plaistow town forest

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:58 am
by Sheila
Way to go Plaistow!!!!!

April 24, 2012

Plaistow begins process of protecting town forest
By Cara Hogan
chogan@eagletribune.com The Eagle Tribune Tue Apr 24, 2012, 02:44 AM EDT


PLAISTOW — The town is ensuring that the 300-plus-acre town forest will be safe from any future development.

Officials are working with the Southeast Land Trust to put a conservation easement on the town forest, according to Jill Senter, Conservation Commission chairman.

"Most people think the forest is already protected, but it's not," she said. "It's protected somewhat by an RSA, but a vote of the people at a Town Meeting could change that. Someone could put in a petition warrant article in 20 years to sell off a portion of the town forest and there would be no restriction on it."

The Board of Selectmen also could decide to sell the land, without legal ramifications, Senter said. The easement would make sure the land cannot have any residential, commercial or industrial development.

"Structures would not be permitted," Senter said. "I'm not talking a little footbridge over a brook, but you can't build a shed out back. And the town wouldn't ever be able to sell the land."

Selectman John Sherman said he supports the Conservation Commission's efforts to enlarge and protect the town forest.

"Working with the Southeast Land Trust will put these parcels under the control of the Conservation Commission and will ensure that this property will remain undeveloped," he said. "As part of this expansion, we might also be able to link up with trails in Atkinson and Hampstead, which would expand the opportunities even more."

The Southeast Land Trust will serve as conservators of the land and enforce the easement, according to Brian Hart, executive director for the Southeast Land Trust, a nonprofit group based in Exeter.

"We've worked with several towns to protect land owned by the town and conserve open space," he said. "We hold easements on town land in Sandown, Brentwood, Portsmouth and Epping. A conservation easement, once it's in place, is perpetual, so it's a very permanent decision for the community to make."

He said to amend or advise an easement is very difficult, requiring a hearing with the state's attorney general. Town leaders must think hard what to allow and what to ban on the property before going forward, Hart said.

"Sustainable forestry could be allowed and sometimes communities allow the ability to withdraw water in the future," Hart said. "Agricultural use is also allowed, if the property is suitable for agriculture. We let the landowner decide those issues."

The town also can restrict how residents use the land. The plan in Plaistow is to make sure use is limited to walking trails and noninvasive recreation, Senter said.

"We can still cross-country ski, hike or bike," she said. "But a dirt bike, four-wheeler or anything motorized would be banned."

But the work is just beginning on the easement, Senter said.

"We're in the very preliminary stages, outlining all the parcels the town owns that we want to include," she said. "We're nowhere near the point where we're writing the easement."

The town forest includes some separate parcels, but most of the land is contiguous.

Hart said getting an easement in place is a very long process.

"Part of what we're doing is making sure the title to the property is clear and that's going to take a while," he said. "The property will also need to be surveyed so everyone

Re: Plaistow town forest

PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:07 pm
by James Mickalide
What about hunting if not already excluded by the town?

Re: Plaistow town forest

PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:06 am
by curt
I write as one who has donated two easements to the Southeast Land Trust of NH and who has gone through the negotiation process with them. SELTNH will not force the town to create an easement that bans hunting. But the town could write that in and SELTNH would not object.

Re: Plaistow town forest

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 9:02 am
by timd
Plaistow allows hunting in their town forest...in fact when hunters in Atkinson ask me where to go I send them there. Most easements leave the grantor with the right to control hunting, vehicular access, and public access.