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Upper Valley Land Trust to celebrate Alswell Farm easement

Union Leader Correspondent

January 13. 2014 8:07PM

HANOVER CENTER — The Upper Valley Land Trust will celebrate the Alswell Farm conservation easement at the end of the month.

The Alswell Farm Celebration is planned for Sunday, Jan. 26, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the farm at 20 Wolfeboro Road, Hanover Center.

The event is open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring snowshoes, skis and sleds for winter fun. “Whatever the weather will allow,” said Peg Merrens, vice president of conservation at the Upper Valley Land Trust.

A bonfire is planned and hot cocoa and other refreshments will be served.

Ed Chamberlain, owner of the 50-acre farm, had been thinking of conserving the land for many years.

He contacted the Upper Valley Land Trust about six months ago, and asked to complete the conservation easement before the end of the year so that he could take advantage of a tax incentive expiring at the end of 2013, Merrens said.

The farm has been in Chamberlain’s family since the 1960s. The family will continue to own the land, but the conservation easement held by the Upper Valley Land Trust extinguishes development rights and other rights to subdivide the property.

“The hope is that it now will always be available for agricultural activities, forest management and low impact recreation,” Merrens said.

The land has been used as a farm since it was settled in 1772, by a minister granted the land in exchange for establishing a church in Hanover Center, Merrens said.

There are trails for snowshoeing and slopes for skiing and sledding. The land is also linked to other conserved land around Moose Mountain, is important to local wildlife and includes brooks and wetlands connected to the headwaters of the Connecticut River.

“There’s been a history especially since Ed’s ownership. It’s been frequented by neighbors, friends, and the general public for many years. He wished that going forward in time that that would continue.”

More than 40 households from all across the Upper Valley region contributed to the project, which raised just over $50,000. Chamberlain was paid $48,000 for the easement, which is 20 percent of the value of the easement, Merrens said.

“It’s been tremendously exciting. The energy and enthusiasm as a community has been spectacular,” she said.

A Washington state man donated to the project as a Christmas present to his parent, who live in the area, Merrens said.

The remaining funds will be used with dedicated support from the Trust’s Mary Kilmarx Fund to establish an endowment for monitoring and defending the easement in perpetuity.

The project continues to seek about $2,500.

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