Oak Hill Land Purchase Opportunity for Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary
Summary: The Sanctuary is pursuing an opportunity to purchase a 26.6-acre undeveloped tract of land vital to the health of Somes Pond for its appraised market value of $325,000. We have a signed purchase option agreement with the current owners of the property adjacent to the Sanctuary’s western boundary, and very close to the inlet stream to Somes Pond and associated wetlands. We have been interested in this particular property for years now because it is one of the few remaining properties abutting the Sanctuary and offers significant opportunities for research, education, and recreation. It has high habitat value as a parcel unto itself with its large vernal pools and mature forest, but is particularly significant in the context of the watershed, the existing Sanctuary property, and other nearby conserved lands. We are negotiating with the sellers for a written agreement giving us time to raise funds for this purchase and meeting with community members to solicit potential interest.
Background: The story of conserving lands around Somes Pond was started by Sanctuary Founder Virginia Somes Sanderson in 1985 with the donation of 33 acres on the south shore of the pond. Since then, there have been many pieces to the conservation effort that have come together to further protect this special place, thanks to the generosity and commitment of landowners and community members (see map).
Opportunity: The subject property has been on and off the market for a few years, and has potential to be developed into three house lots, with an access road from Oak Hill Rd. The Sanctuary and local neighbors have been interested in this particular property because it is one of the few remaining parcels abutting the Sanctuary and it is immediately upslope of wetlands and the stream that flows into Somes Pond from the north. It has high habitat value as a parcel unto itself, but particularly in the context of the watershed, the Sanctuary property, and other nearby conserved lands. See photos: Oak Hill land from northwest with parcel overlay; and Oak Hill land from east with parcel overlay.
The further protection of this parcel via acquisition makes sense for the Sanctuary and partners to pursue given its location, features, and opportunities – all fitting our organization’s purposes and mission and the sentiment of those who care greatly about the Somes Pond watershed. This is a situation where we don’t want to look back in several years and say: “we wish we had protected that land when we had the opportunity.”
Conservation Values: The property offers opportunities for:
- Habitat protection and habitat block connection – The property is part of a large, fairly intact (limited development) forested block of habitat. It is part of a substantial wildlife corridor – permitting movement of numerous species up and down the west side of the island. Several large vernal pools are located on the property offering amphibians (wood frogs, spotted salamanders, spring peepers) needed breeding and rearing habitat. Large maple and oak trees offer bat roosting habitat.
- Research – expanded ecological study opportunities of our watershed’s forest, vernal pools, and wildlife;
- Education – many possibilities for students of all ages to explore the area, conduct their own investigations; and Sanctuary education field trips.
- Recreation – Trail development and use opportunities on the western side of the Sanctuary could be expanded with this 26.6 acre parcel if we choose to do so.
Support Needed: The Sanctuary has until May 1st 2020 to close on the project. We have several months to raise the entire $325,000 purchase price in order to proceed with this opportunity. We are well on our way but need your help. Please let us know if you can assist our conservation efforts with a pledge of a tax-deductible financial contribution, as well as by sharing this opportunity with others. Your support is critical for us to accomplish this goal together. A pledge form is available here.