Thanks to Kate Wilcox and Emily Lord for photos of past events at WidowMaker Farm.
A conservation easement now protects 117 acres at WidowMaker Farm, thanks to generous gifts from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), which awarded a $15,000 grant; the Town of New Durham, which donated $10,000 from its Conservation Fund; and generous contributions from over seventy individual donors. The funds raised by MMRG covered the project transaction fees and a stewardship fund.
The most notable donors, however, are the landowners, Victor Piekarski and Gloria Switalski, who gifted the conservation easement with foresight and a generous spirit. At the 2016 LCHIP awards ceremony, Piekarski shared their heartfelt motivation, saying, “We love this land and we want others to enjoy it too, for a long time to come.”
At the end of the closing on November 30, MMRG Chair Nicole Csiszer applauded Victor and Gloria’s passion to protect the land with a conservation easement. Victor explained that he and Gloria were inspired to find a way to protect their land because of its unique and overlapping conservation values. Now their vision has been realized. MMRG Executive Director Patti Connaughton-Burns added that MMRG is honored to hold the conservation easement for WidowMaker Farm (WMF) and is committed to the stewardship work that ensures that the land is forever protected.
The conserved land of WidowMaker Farm protects wildlife, plants, and ecosystems containing wetlands, ponds and streams. Sixty-six acres of the property are ranked as top tier wildlife habitat by the NH Fish & Game Department’s Wildlife Action Plan. Several perennial and intermittent streams link more than 32 acres of ponds and wetlands that are pristine headwater sources for downstream drinking water. MMRG’s 2017 Conservation Action Plan rates this land as Tier 1 (highest) for conservation values with overlapping attributes and for its connectivity to more than 5,000 acres of conserved lands to the south. The land also falls within MMRG’s Priority 1 Greenway and facilitates wildlife migration along safe corridors.
WidowMaker Farm’s working forests will continue to generate revenue for the community through taxation of timber harvests. The conservation area is open to public access for gentle use along well-groomed woods trails that lead to scenic vistas and several historic features.
In keeping with landowners’ interest to share this land for educational purposes, MMRG has led several events on the property. Last May, families explored the beaver ponds for early signs of spring, experienced the quake of a sphagnum moss bog, and befriended newts and semi-aquatic salamanders that migrate between aquatic and terrestrial habitats. MMRG looks forward to hosting more programs at WidowMaker Farm for years to come.