The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) announced that on August 29th, it purchased 122 acres of forestland and wetlands adjacent to the existing 185-acre William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest in Rochester, with help from many supporters.
“We are so pleased that this acquisition will not only enhance the natural resources protected as part of the Champlin Forest, but also provide an even greater recreational asset in the heart of Rochester, a city of more than 31,000 residents,” said Jack Savage, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.
This land will be permanently conserved and open to the public thanks to combined contributions of $465,000 from numerous sources. More than 250 individual donors from surrounding communities made gifts to the fundraising campaign and the Adelard A. and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation awarded a grant of $7,500. The Rochester Conservation Commission contributed $200,000 from its Conservation Fund and funding from two state grant sources were essential to this project, a $115,000 grant from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and a $110,000 grant from New Hampshire Department Environmental Services Aquatic Resource Mitigation Program.
“The expansion of the Champlin Forest helps preserve Rochester’s open space and further connect our community to the outdoors,” said Ryan O’Connor, city planner with the City of Rochester. “We’re thankful to the Forest Society, the Conservation Commission, individual donors, and all the partners that worked to make this happen. Opportunities like this help to balance growth and provide lasting benefits to the community and environment.”
The 185-acre William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest was donated to the Forest Society in 2006 by Virginia Spaulding Champlin in honor of her late husband. At the time, the Champlins donated an additional 122 acres to another local nonprofit, Homemakers Health Services, now a part of Easterseals of New Hampshire. It is this property that the Forest Society purchased and reunited with the 185-acre Champlin Forest.
“LCHIP is pleased to support the Forest Society’s Champlin Forest expansion, which will improve access to outdoor recreation close to home for residents of Rochester and Somersworth, two of New Hampshire’s largest communities,” said Paula Bellemore, executive director for the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.
“Completing the Champlin project has been very rewarding personally,” said Lori Sommer, wetlands mitigation coordinator with the NH Department of Environmental Services, Water Division. “In 2005, I was involved in negotiations with the Champlin family and federal agencies concerning mitigation for the nearby Skyhaven Airport. That resulted in the breaching of two dams and 185 acres of land conservation of the original William H. Champlin, Jr. Forest. This 122-acre Forest Society addition significantly expands protection in a highly developed landscape, results in a connected habitat for wildlife, and furthers mitigation goals to protect water quality of the Cocheco River watershed.”
The Champlin Forest already hosts a restored wetland and woodland trails are easily accessible from the main parking area off Route 108. The Forest Society plans to celebrate the expansion of the Champlin Forest with a winter walk to be scheduled later this year.