Cunningham Pond

Photo by Francie Von Mertens courtesy of the Monadnock Conservancy

The view from the town beach, south across the pond, includes significant shoreline now owned by the Monadnock Conservancy.

PETERBORUGH — The Monadnock Conservancy worked with a group of local residents to conserve 104 acres around the Cunningham Pond.

Anne McBride, land protection director with the Keene-based Monadnock Conservancy, said the group of Peterborough residents with the Cunningham Pond Preservation Alliance approached them last year about the land.

“They reached out to Monadnock Conservancy and they knew they wanted to protect it,” McBride said.

As they got going on the initial planning, the conservancy staff realized they wanted to be part of the project saving the land, she said. The project, announced this week, sees 104 acres around the pond preserved, with hiking trails and open fields for public use. The project includes hayfields that McBride said will remain in operation.

The project started when residents found out that land was being sold near the pond for development. Cunningham Pond used to be Peterborough’s water source, and it is now the town beach for residents. The property has frontage on Route 101 and is considered a gateway to the region, McBride said. Residents wanted to keep the pod from getting developed.

“The fact that there is hardly any development at all on the pond is undeniably central to the experience people have when they swim, paddle, fish, snowshoe, or skate there,” said Ryan Owens, executive director of the conservancy. “This is what we are preserving for everyone by conserving the land and water on the south shore.”

After land was sold to developers, the Cunningham Pond Preservation Alliance negotiated a contract to purchase the remaining acreage in 2017. The group then sought out help from the conservancy to get the deal done for $1.5 million.

The purchase includes a stone boathouse on the pond, but McBride said that building, along with a strip of land about 5 acres in size, will be sold off. McBride said that property will come with permanent restrictions on further development and residential use.

The property sits at the center of nearly 8,000 acres of permanently conserved land, including Casalis State Forest.

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