Portsmouth acquires large conservation easement near Bellamy Reservoir to assist water quality efforts

December 19, 2018

The City of Portsmouth’s Water Division is pleased to announce the acquisition of a conservation easement on 72 acres of property adjacent to the Bellamy Reservoir in Madbury, New Hampshire from Dave Olson. This easement was realized through the combined efforts of the City, the Southeast Land Trust (SELT), the Town of Madbury and the State of New Hampshire’s Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund.

Mr. Olson has always known the value of his land. As a former professor at the University of New Hampshire, Dave taught wildlife biology, fire ecology and forest management. Tucked away in a quiet corner of Madbury, it is nestled along the banks of the Bellamy River and Reservoir, and is home to abundant wildlife, a blueberry plantation, a small 12-acre cut-your-own Christmas tree farm and forests with nearly 35 species of native trees. Dave’s desire to conserve his land was driven by his academic background, as well as the “Yankee tradition of keeping land open.” Beyond these values, the protection of the Bellamy Reservoir is a high priority for the City of Portsmouth, as the Bellamy is its primary water supply.

Conserving land that surrounds, or includes, wetlands, rivers, streams and larger bodies of water like the Bellamy protects water resources from the pressures of development, and helps municipal water systems provide higher quality water at the tap. That’s why this February, SELT, the City and Mr. Olson agreed on a partnership to permanently conserve this land through the sale of a conservation easement. To support the effort, SELT helped the City apply for, and receive, a grant from the newly established New Hampshire Groundwater and Drinking Water Trust Fund. These funds made conserving this property in Madbury possible. Earlier this year the Portsmouth City Council approved funding to match the Trust Fund’s contribution of $200,000 toward this purchase.

According to Al Pratt, Water Resource Manager for the City of Portsmouth, “City Council’s support in appropriating the remainder of the funds for this purchase is very much appreciated and is in line with the City’s long-term commitment to sustainability.” He continues, “The conservation easement on Mr. Olson’s property is an important step toward the continued long-term protection of the Bellamy Reservoir and the quality of the drinking water supply for Portsmouth and the Seacoast area. We hope that this project will be the keystone parcel for further land protection efforts in the Bellamy watershed.”

Image: Representatives from the City of Portsmouth and the Southeast Land Trust celebrate the closing of the conservation easement with Mr. Olson (center).

Bellamy Reservoir