River Dave at river

“River Dave” Lidstone has received a $180,000 donation from a software billionaire.

“River Dave” Lidstone, the hermit whose jail-to-homelessness saga generated more than $220,000 in donations, has returned to the Canterbury property where he lived for years, only to be arrested again.

Canterbury police arrested Lidstone, 81, on Dec. 14 on a Class B misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass, said Police Chief Michael Labrecque. Lidstone spent the night in jail and went before a judge, who released him on the condition he not return to the land, which is located on the shores of the Merrimack River.

Lidstone called a reporter on Wednesday from a woodshed where he lives on the property.

He said he returned to the property so he can fight sludge spreading on farmland that abuts the Merrimack River, an effort he has been involved with for two decades. He said the sludge spreading amounted to corruption.

“This is about going public,” Lidstone said. “If I was sitting in a nursing home, nobody in the world is going to pay attention to me.”

Labrecque said he assumes Lidstone has returned to the property, which is owned by the Giles family of Vermont. He said he’ll send his officers to re-arrest Lidstone if he is presented with proof of Lidstone’s presence, such as a photograph.

Lidstone’s situation generated international attention last summer when he was jailed for refusing to leave the cabin, where he had lived for 27 years.

A judge freed him after the cabin burned down. The town fire chief has said the fire was likely accidental. People across the country made donations on behalf of Lidstone, including $180,000 from Silicon Valley entrepreneur Alexander Karp. Lidstone said the trust account holds about $220,000.

He also repeated his previous claims that the land does not belong to the Giles family of Vermont, whose complaints about his squatting on their land led to his arrest last year. But he has been unable to hire a surveyor to check the boundaries. He has contacted three or four, he said, who have shied away because of the controversy.

Lidstone is living in a shed that was not damaged in the fire. He has a wood stove, water and food, said Jodie Gedeon, who advocated for him this past summer. He said he was attacked on New Year’s Eve by a tall, thin man who struck him on the head and then fled.

Labrecque said police received a complaint about the assault, but when an officer visited the property, he could not find Lidstone’s shed because of the snow.

Lidstone cooperated with police during his arrest and even joked with the officers, who had to walk about 45 minutes to find and arrest him, Labrecque said.

“He came out and said, ‘I knew you guys would be coming for me,’ ” the chief said. The officers walked him out, then handcuffed him when they put him in the cruiser, the chief said.

Although Labrecque said he assumes that Lidstone is on the property, he won’t send officers to arrest him unless he has proof. It wouldn’t be enough for the Giles family to say they think he is there, the chief said.

“I’m not going to send my officers an hour into the woods just to check on a piece of property, especially in the winter,” Labrecque said.

The trust was established to acquire a homestead for Lidstone, and he can only remove the money with the signature of two trustees, Gedeon said. She said she is taking a reduced role in this latest effort.