The Town of Durham has been a partner in many successful conservation projects. Since 2003, when voters overwhelmingly approved a warrant article authorizing a $2.5 million "Open Space" bond to fund land conservation projects, the Town has protected over 800 acres of undeveloped land in Durham, adding to its hundreds of acres of already-conserved land.
The seven conservation projects completed between 2003 and 2008, comprising 465 acres, are highlighted in the brochure Scenic Durham, which can be viewed and downloaded from below. Funds provided by the Town for these and subsequent projects were highly leveraged through state and federal grant programs and augmented by private donations.
Although some important natural resources remain unprotected, over 25% of Durham's land is under some form of permanent conservation. (See section below titled "Map of Conserved and Public Lands.") However, as of April 2013, only one of these properties is both permanently protected and owned by the Town—the Oyster River Forest, formerly known as the Sprucewood Forest.
The success of a long legacy of land conservation efforts means that many of Durham's most visible scenic landscapes and farms will remain intact for future generations. The forests, rich farmland soils, recreational opportunities, wildlife habitats, wetlands, drinking water supplies, and other natural resources on these parcels will remain part of the fabric of our town forever.
All of these lands have permanent conservation easements that protect their scenic and natural resource values forever. Except where noted, these are private lands, and public access varies by property. Please pay attention to signage and respect private property. Most of these projects are described in detail in the 2008 issue of the Scenic Durham Newsletter.
In the spring of 2009, the Durham Conservation Commission, with the endorsement of the Town Council, submitted a grant application to the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), Community Technical Assistance Program, for the development of a stewardship plan to better track, manage, and protect the ecological values of Town-owned conservation lands. Subsequently, the DCC hired a Technical Assistance Provider, Ellen Snyder, of Ibis Wildlife Consulting (Newmarket, NH) to develop stewardship plans on four Durham properties: Wagon Hill Farm, Doe Farm, Longmarsh Preserve, and the Weeks Lot.
The Durham Conservation Commission remains actively involved in conserving important natural resources in Durham. Learn more about our conservation efforts and priorities here:
In 2010, a new committee made up of Conservation Commissioners and other interested members of the public and Town staff was formed to help work on stewardship of Town lands. In 2012, the Committee expanded to include members of the Durham Agricultural Commission and the Durham Parks and Recreation Committee. The Committee is working on several initiatives for 2012:
Durham residents interested in joining the Land Stewardship Committee should dcc [at] ci [dot] durham [dot] nh [dot] us (subject: Durham%20Conservation%20Commisson%20query) (email the Chair of the Conservation Commission)dcc [at] ci [dot] durham [dot] nh [dot] us (subject: Durham%20Conservation%20Commisson%20query) (.)
Doe Farm Workdays
Over 100 volunteers from Durham, the University of New Hampshire, and local corporations have been working since 2011 to help restore native plants at Doe Farm, a town property that offers excellent cross-country skiing access located off Bennett Road. Volunteers have spent many hours over the course of four different workdays pulling common buckthorn, a non-native invasive shrub that has taken over the understory of the forest. Dense stands of common buckthorn prevents the establishment of the next generation of native tree seedlings— such as white pine, hickory, oak, and maple. Pictures from the workdays are posted; visit the link below to view them.
Additional sections of Doe Farm have yet to be tackled for buckthorn removal. If you are interested in helping out at other workdays (likely this coming autumn), please dcc [at] ci [dot] durham [dot] nh [dot] us (subject: Durham%20Conservation%20Commisson%20%7C%20workdays) (email the Chair of the Conservation Commission).
Included in the list of downloadable Supporting Documents (below) is a map of the "Conserved and Public Lands" of Durham, dated September 26, 2011. This map is based on NHGRANIT (New Hampshire's statewide GIS data clearinghouse) data. It shows three categories of properties:
The map does not reflect the 2012 addition of the Amber Acres conservation easement on Mast Road (Rte. 155), the addition of the Oyster River ("Sprucewood") Forest property (along Mill and Packers Falls Roads), or the Cottages of Durham ("Capstone") conservation easement (off Technology Drive). The NHGRANIT Protection Level Descriptions, which may be difficult to read on the PDF, are as follows:
Click any thumbnail image to view a slideshow