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Temple

Connolly farm added to protected corridor

TEMPLE — Nearly 70 acres of land at Temple’s Connolly Farm have been put under conservation easement as part of a 2,500-acre protection project headed by the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership.

The Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership announced last week that the Connolly Brothers Farm will be among 13 projects approved for a round of Land Conservation Grants, which helped to underwrite the conservation of ecologically important forestland that stretches from the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts through the Monadnock region and north to Mount Cardigan southwest of the White Mountain National Forest. According to a press release issued by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests last week, the partnership awarded $100,000 to protect a total of 2,500 acres. The newly protected land is estimated to be worth approximately $3.4 million.

Among the protected properties is the Connolly Farm in Temple. The partnership awarded the Connolly farm $3,730 to assist with the costs associated with putting 69 acres into conservation easement. This is just the beginning of the Connolly Farm with Quabbin-to-Cardigan, though, noted Chris Wells, the senior director for strategic projects at Quabbin-to-Cardigan. The partnership is currently in negotiations with the Connolly family to purchase the easement to the farm’s forested land.

The land has an approximate value of $530,000, according to Brian Hotz, the vice president of land conservation at Quabbin-to-Cardigan. The partnership is currently in discussion with the family to purchase the easement for two-thirds of its value. Already, the partnership has acquired $250,000 of the $400,000 needed for the easement, through a Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection grant. The partnership will start a round of private fundraising in the spring, with hopes to have the full amount in place by the end of next summer, said Hotz.

Although the Connolly property easement is fairly modest in size, compared to some of the others Quabbin-to-Cardigan is pursuing, it’s still ecologically significant, said Wells.

With this latest round of grants taken into account, the Quabbin-to-Cardigan grant program will have conserved almost 15,000 acres of land, according to the release. The grants program, which is privately funded, is administered by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The partnership is a collaboration of more than 20 organizations that work with interested landowners to protect land in the corridor. The focus of the partnership is heavily on conserving lands that are either ecologically critical, or those that buffer and connect other core areas of protection.

Connolly Farm is one of those properties that has value as a buffer property, explained Wells, as well as being in one of the areas the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership has earmarked as a priority. In addition, the property has value in itself as a local agricultural tourism spot. The Connollys sell homemade ice cream and dairy, and house a wild raptor rescue.

“Even a modestly-sized project, such as this, is just one more puzzle piece in the large puzzle that we’re working on in this 100-mile corridor,” said Wells.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on twitter @AshleySaari.

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