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February 28. 2013 8:57PM

Forest society to preserve Hebron's Hazelton Farm


An easement deed to the Hazelton family's 272-acre farm puts the land under permanent conservation with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. (COURTESY)

HEBRON - The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has acquired a conservation easement on 272 acres on the Hazelton Farm in Hebron.

The conservation easement will protect key habitat and water quality in the Newfound Lake region. It will allow the Hazelton family to continue to own the property, which will be protected from future development with their care, while remaining open to the public for recreational uses.

The land is considered highly valuable for conservation, said Brian Hotz, senior director of strategic projects for the forest society.

The Cockermouth River and Wise Brook run through the property, and its conservation will protect not only those streams but also nearby Newfound Lake. Its upper reaches include forested hillsides of Crosby and Tenney mountains, and its lowlands offer fields and farmland.

"The forest society took on the fundraising effort because the property's natural resource values are off the charts," he said.

The value is so high that the project was awarded all six grants the forest society applied for in their entirety, something that rarely happens in land conservation, society officials said.

"All the funders were very excited about this project," said Martha Twombly, the forest society's capital campaign specialist.

Twombly said the project was made more attractive by the property's inclusion in several regional conservation plans, including the Newfound Lake Region Association's watershed master plan.

Grants for the project came from the John Gemmill Newfound Fund, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, the Aquatic Resources Mitigation program of the state Department of Environmental Services, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, the state Conservation Committee Moose Plate grant and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation-Lakes Region.

The project attracted strong support from local communities as well, with contributions from more than 300 individuals and organizations, including the Pemi-Baker Chapter of Trout Unlimited and the Hebron Conservation Commission.

"We've been thrilled with the outpouring of support," Twombly said.

The community interest came as a pleasant surprise to Paul and Mary Hazelton, who have lived for 40 years in the sheep barn they converted into a home on the property.

"We knew we loved this place and knew it was a wonderful place, but as time went on, we saw more and more that it was valuable to the community as well," Paul Hazelton said.

The Hazelton Farm is the sixth property that has been conserved through the Land and Watershed Committee's efforts in the Newfound watershed since December of 2011.



dseufert@newstote.com



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