Trails will be added and maintained on nearly 400 acres of conservation land, shown here in purple. (Courtesy)
Land trust aims to build trail system in Hooksett
By MELISSA PROULX
Union Leader Correspondent
HOOKSETT — Work on a new set of trail systems near Heads Pond is expected to begin in the next year or so.
Bear-Paw Regional Greenway, a Deerfield-based nonprofit land trust, has acquired conservation land known as the Great Marsh Preserve. It was owned by Manchester Sand and Gravel and located just off Route 3 near the Allenstown town line.
The company plans to build a new housing development in that area.
The conservation land is located on the northeast corner of the property, and can be accessed from the Chester Turnpike. In all, it’s just under 400 acres and abuts Bear Brook State Park in some places.
Bear-Paw Executive Director Dan Kern said the goal will be to start mapping the property in the coming months to figure out exactly where the trails — which will primarily be walking trails — will go.
“There are quite a few trails out there already,” he said. “...It could be a pretty extensive trail network once it gets mapped.”
In all, Bear-Paw works with more than 1,000 acres of conservation land in Hooksett, most of which is located near this new plot. While most of the land was purchased by Bear-Paw at $1,000 to $2,000 an acre, the Great Marsh Preserve came at no cost since it was part of conditions for the developer’s to get approval for the project.
The goal is to start applying for grant funding this summer through the state to help fund the mapping of and signage for the trails.
“We could potentially get starting in the fall,” Kern said.
Developers, as part of the development agreement, gave about 50 acres to the town, which could be used in the future to build a new school near the future development.
The development has been in the works for about a decade. The plan is to build more than 400 single-family and townhouse units on 1,460 acres of land next to the Heads Pond Trail system off Route 3.
The development is located next to another that Manchester Sand and Gravel started: the Carriage Hill Estate off Post Road.
A start date for the construction of the new development has not yet been determined.