A turkey gobbled from a high perch in a pine tree every night for a week before the trail of turkey feathers littered the pathway at the bottom of the hill. Maybe the bobcat that neighbors had seen in the area took the turkey. No one knows the story behind that wildlife encounter, but Cogswell Hill in Canterbury is likely to continue to host a wide variety of wildlife because Howard Moffett along with new owners Chris and Jim Devine worked with Five Rivers Conservation Trust to conserve 56 acres where this wildlife encounter occurred. Moffett has owned and loved this property for 32 years. He wanted to conserve the land before he sold it and was pleased to find buyers who planned uses of the property that were compatible with his conservation goals.
The conserved property encompasses a wide variety of wildlife habitats including low wetland, a small stream along the base of a steep hill, softwood and hardwood forest and hilltop fields with long views.
Limitations placed on the use of the land, known as a conservation easement, make it possible for the landowners to continue agricultural and forestry activities, while preventing further development. The Moffett easement guarantees access on a recreational trail used by snowmobiles, walkers, and skiers.
This conserved property will remain in private ownership and on the tax rolls. Even with the conservation easement in place, the landowner can transfer the property to new owners, just like any other real estate. After donating the conservation easement, Moffett sold the land to Jim and Chris Devine, who were interested in purchasing the land but were not originally comfortable with a conservation easement. After talking with Moffett, they realized that his goals of preventing development fit well with their goals of growing Christmas trees and heirloom apples, and maintaining the view.
Five Rivers’ ongoing responsibility is to monitor the land regularly, to help future owners understand the conservation restrictions and to ensure there is no future subdivision or development. Beth McGuinn, Executive Director of Five Rivers Conservation Trust said, “Our role will continue with all future owners of the property. This ‘stewardship work’ is our most important responsibility - and we plan to do it forever on this land and the other 4300+ acres Five Rivers has conserved.”
The Canterbury Conservation Commission helped by funding some of the transaction expenses. Kelly Short, Canterbury Conservation Commission Chair said, “We congratulate Howard Moffett and Five Rivers Conservation Trust on conserving this Cogswell Hill property. The Commission loves the chance to work with residents and organizations to conserve what they value that is also important to the character of the town.”
Five Rivers Conservation Trust is a nonprofit, membership-supported organization that works with communities and landowners to protect land with important conservation values. The goal of Five Rivers is to ensure that future generations can experience, utilize, and benefit from the farms, forests, wetlands, and fields that characterize the local landscape today. Five Rivers works in seventeen communities across New Hampshire’s greater capital region and has conserved 69 properties, totaling over 4300 acres.