Forest Society Opens Champlin Reservation in Rochester
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Amanda Nickerson, Communications Specialist
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 301
Rochester, N.H., September 7, 2006—Like growing quality timber, it can take a few years for a worthwhile land conservation project to mature. After more than 10 years of work by a long list of agencies and individuals, The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests opened the 185-acre William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest in Rochester on Thursday September 7th with a ceremony and field trip. A gift from Virginia S. Champlin of North Andover, Mass., the property was named in honor of Mrs. Champlin's late husband, who took an active role and interest in the management of the land for forestry, wildlife, and recreational purposes. He also played a significant role in the current location of Skyhaven Airport, across Route 108 from the reservation.
Photo: J. Savage, Forest Society staff
Russ Shillaber, representing Mrs. Champlin, noted that Sept. 7 was a most appropriate day to celebrate the opening of the new reservation, as it would have been William Champlin’s 91st birthday.
The William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest is the largest conservation property in the City of Rochester and the Forest Society's largest reservation within a 30-mile radius of Portsmouth. Located on Route 108 across from Skyhaven Airport, Champlin Forest is fewer than five miles from downtown Rochester and Somersworth and offers a system of woods roads for pedestrian recreation and a parking area with defined trailhead.
“This project was a tremendous accomplishment for the Forest Society and the City of Rochester,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “It required extensive cooperation among our partners for the benefit of all.” As a community resource featuring woods, water, wildlife and high-quality farm soils, the Champlin Forest was a perfect match for the goals of the Forest Society’s strategic vision, New Hamsphire Everlasting, Difley said. “We encourage every town and city to permanently protect at least 25 percent of its land,” she said.
Rochester Mayor John LaRochelle and City Councilor Sandra Keans were on hand to help the Forest Society declare Champlin Forest open to the public. Also present were Tricia Lambert of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and Victor Lung of the Federal Aviation Administration, and a host of other individuals who had some hand in protecting the property. Following a brief press conference, Director of Education Dave Anderson led a nature hike along the trail network on the property.
“It is wonderful how many groups with different agendas could come together with one objective for all New Hampshire residents to enjoy,” said Rochester Mayor John LaRochelle. “The William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest will add to the quality of life for Rochester residents.” LaRochelle also noted that in a pro-business city like Rochester, public conservation lands are an important component of a high quality of life that can attract good businesses and good employees to the city.
Champlin Forest has many significant and diverse conservation features. Half of the property consists of well-managed, productive woodlands, containing marketable white pine and red oak along with diverse animal habitat, consisting of a field, varied woodland types, vernal pools and wetlands. There are also two former pond sites, whose dams have been permanently breached to restore Clark Brook and its wetlands to their free-flowing, natural condition.
The preservation of the property will also allow for the protection of valuable water resources. The property serves as the headwaters of and includes extensive frontage along Clark Brook and also contributes to two nearby public water supplies. Forty percent of the property's soils are highly productive for agriculture--one remnant field was once the heart of a dairy operation called Haven Hill Farms. Remnants of a small-scale granite quarry dating to the mid-1800s, when stones were drilled and cut by hand, are evident as well.
A key to this project was overcoming potential liabilities associated with two dams on the property, both of which the state had ordered to be breached or repaired. The Forest Society helped forge a successful relationship with the City of Rochester, Mrs. Champlin, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to secure funds from the FAA to breach the dams, construct a parking area and trailhead, remove dilapidated farm buildings and manage invasive species on the property. The grant was a part of a mitigation plan for capital improvements proposed for the state-owned Skyhaven Airport.
“We are thrilled to be able to move ahead with our airport master plan,” Said Sandy Keans. “We have a wonderful opportunity to keep Bill’s [Champlin] vision alive.”
Champlin Forest is one of three new Forest Society reservations in southeast New Hampshire. October 22 will mark the public opening of the Forest Society’s 35-acre Creek Farm Reservation along Sagamore Creek in Portsmouth, and the 2,189-acre Moose Mountains Reservation in Middleton and Brookfield is open to the public as well. The Forest Society is also active in the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership, which focuses on conserving land around Great Bay.
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.