The William H. Champlin Jr. Forest is a 185-acre forest reservation located within five miles of the downtown areas of both Rochester and Somersworth. Given to the Forest Society in 2006 by Virginia Spaulding Champlin in honor of her husband, the land was part of a larger farm and forest complex that the Champlins stewarded for many years as they raised their children and were cultural and business leaders in the community.
Now, the Forest Society has the opportunity to re-unite some of the original Champlin lands by purchasing 122 acres that Mrs. Champlin donated to another local nonprofit, Homemakers Health Services, which later merged into Easterseals of New Hampshire. The Forest Society will purchase these lands from Easterseals and will enlarge the existing Champlin Forest so that it encompasses additional forestland, wetlands and the height of land on Gonic Hill.
Easterseals had contemplated selling the land for its development potential, with access from Tebbetts Road and adjacent to the existing residential area of Champlin Ridge Road.
If the Forest Society is successful, this project will create a 307-acre recreation area with an expanded trail network in close proximity to the roughly 75,000 residents of Rochester, Somersworth and Dover.
The Forest Society has an agreement to purchase the land from Easterseals, but to do so we must raise $465,000 from a variety of sources by the end of 2021. In December 2021, the project was awarded major grants from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and the NH Department of Environmental Services Aquatic Resource Mitigation (ARM) program. Along with a commitment of $200,000 from the Rochester Conservation Commission and over 250 individual donations, and we are now within $10,000 of reaching our goal. Thank you to all who have contributed to this campaign. With fundraising nearly complete, the Forest Society will be working on a management plan and final documents in advance of acquiring the property by the summer of 2022.