Conservation Commission seeks to create town forest

By LIZ SAUCHELLI

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 03-15-2023 7:43 PM

ENFIELD — The Conservation Commission will ask voters to create a town forest using 100 acres of town-owned land Saturday in a petitioned warrant article at Enfield Town Meeting.

The land, located on Methodist Hill Road in the East side of town, will provide a corridor for wildlife and recreation opportunities for residents, said Jerold Theis, chairman of the Conservation Commission.

“The area on Methodist Hill is devoid of areas that have been undeveloped and consequently the people on that part of Enfield, on the western side of (Interstate) 89 are basically left with relatively little in the way of open space for recreation, hunting and so forth — yet they’re part of Enfield and they pay taxes here,” Theis said in a phone interview. “The Conservation Commission felt they were deserving of some land preservation there.”

While there is conserved land in Enfield, it is mostly owned by the Upper Valley Land Trust and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Theis said. 

“We have no official position at this time,” about the potential creation of a town forest, said David Fracht, chair of the town’s Planning Board.

Similar to other Upper Valley community members, Enfield residents have said that they would like to see more workforce housing built in town. Theis said the Methodist Hill land is not a good spot for housing as it is steep and rocky. 

“The feeling is that the only buildable portions are right along Methodist Hill roadway itself and, if you build those houses along that road, you will basically cut off all the property behind them because the owners of those homes are not likely to allow the public to trace through their properties to get through to the unbuildable potions which can be used for recreation,” Theis said. “It's either conserve the whole thing or prohibit it from being used by the people in Enfield as a recreation and hunting site.”

Theis said that if voters approve the creation of a town forest, the Conservation Commission will develop a management plan for the land. 

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“We have a sufficient amount of money coming from donations to take care of the property here and we wouldn't be using taxpayer funding,” he said. 

The Town Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Enfield Village School.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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