History of Land Conservation in Hopkinton
In the late 1970’s, the amount of development increased within the Town of Hopkinton and the Conservation Commission felt that some land needed to be protected to maintain the town’s much desired rural atmosphere. A large parcel of land along the Contoocook River (the Contoocook River Lot) was then acquired with the help of federal funds.
The Commission later inventoried Town-owned lands to see which parcels could be protected for conservation purposes. In the early 1980’s, several tracts of land that had been obtained over the years through tax deeds, along with other parcels that had been gifted to the town, were formally designated as Town Forests to be managed by the Conservation Commission. Several other tracts of land have since been added to the Town Forest system and protected with conservation easements.
The Town of Hopkinton owns 16 properties that are designated as Town Forests and managed by the Conservation Commission. Some of these properties have parking and trails for public use, while others are reserved for wildlife and timber management.
The town maintains hiking trails on the Brockway Preserve, Hawthorne Forest, Horne Town Forest (Contoocook Overlook Trail at Bohanan Farm), Kimball Lake, Ransmeier Woods, the Aqueduct Lot, and the connecting trails of the Hopkinton Village Greenway. There is also a trail along the old railroad bed on the Stevens Rail Trail property. All of the Town Forests are shown on the Conservation Lands map and are available for exploration.
Hunting is allowed on all of the Town Forests except Hawthorne Forest, Kimball Lake, Brockway Preserve, Carson, and Beyer. For more information, see “Hunting on Town Forests” at: http://www.hopkinton-nh.gov/Pages/HopkintonNH_BComm/hunting
The Conservation Commission manages the forests under the “Multiple Use” concept where consideration is given to timber production, wildlife habitat, recreation, education and watersheds.
The Commission developed the following goals to guide their forest management activities:
- Provide enough undeveloped Open Space to help the Town maintain its rural character and ambiance.
- Develop healthy, high quality forest types, and where appropriate, conduct timber harvests to produce sufficient income to cover forest management expenses
and help purchase additional conservation lands.
- Provide a variety of productive habitats to maintain a diverse and healthy wildlife population and to protect critical habitat types.
- Provide residents with public land for outdoor recreational activities.
- Protect water quality and wetland areas.
- Provide areas for environmental awareness and outdoor education.
- Protect cultural, historical or other unique features found within the forests.
OPEN SPACE PARCELS
In 2003, the voters of Hopkinton approved an Open Space Bond of up to $5 million to acquire land or other property interests for the purpose of protecting the natural heritage and rural character of Hopkinton. Open space bond funding has helped the town acquire Ransmeier Woods, Beyer, Rice, Rollins and the Carson properties. Open space bond funds, together with State and Federal funds, helped acquire a conservation easement on Bohanan Farm.
The Open Space Committee continues to evaluate properties that meet its land protection criteria and the conservation goals of the Hopkinton Master Plan. The Committee is actively working with the Conservation Commission to increase public access to preserved properties. The Hopkinton Village Greenway, a 4.5-mile trail around the village, was designed to connect town forests and conservation lands surrounding Hopkinton village.
OTHER CONSERVATION PROPERTIES
Hopkinton is fortunate to have a number of conservation properties that are not owned by the Town but are available for public recreation. These include Mast Yard State Forest; the Sweatt Preserve, owned by Five Rivers Conservation Trust; Smith Pond Bog and the Chase Preserve, both owned by New Hampshire Audubon; and Elm Brook Park Recreation Area, part of the Hopkinton-Everett Lakes, operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
TOWN RECREATION LANDS
The town owns other properties that are managed by the Recreation Department. These include the Kimball Pond Recreation Area and Houston Fields. For more information, visit the Recreation Department website: http://www.hopkinton-nh.gov/Pages/HopkintonNH_Recreation/index