Forest Society and Town of Washington Partner to Protect Rural Character

June 12, 2011

Forest Society and Town of Washington Partner to Protect Rural Character

The Forest Society recently partnered with the Town of Washington Conservation Commission to protect 141 acres of land owned by Eccard Farms, Inc.

“This farm truly defines East Washington's unique rural character,” said Washington Conservation Commission Chair Carol Andrews. “The Forest Society provided assistance in all areas of the project, including negotiating the terms of the easement, grant writing, baseline documentation, and field work.”

Eccard Farms had been recognized as a “Farm of Distinction” by the State of New Hampshire. As the last working family dairy farm in the Town of Washington, this is a destination farm for visitors to view exotic animals, shop in the farm stand, and tour the land.

Although owned and operated by Eccard Farm, Inc., the farm is managed by George and Sandy Eccard and their son Ryan. The Eccards have always welcomed the public on the entire farm for educational and recreational purposes. Hundreds of families and school groups come each year, many from towns in the three-county area and beyond, to learn about dairy farming and visit the farm store, milking parlor, barns, the large variety of animals, and the farm museum. The easement land has been used by the public for hiking, horseback riding, skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling for more than fifty years, and now that the land is protected, continued public access is guaranteed.

Although the appraised value of the easement was $133,000, the Eccard family agreed to a bargain sale of almost half that amount. The Washington Conservation Commission applied for and was awarded grants from both Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and the Quabbin-to-Cardigan (Q2C) grant program.  The Forest Society holds the primary interest in the conservation easement, with LCHIP and the Town of Washington holding back-up interests.

The easement adds significant acreage to an already substantial collection of conservation lands. The land abuts the Forest Society’s Journey's End reservation, which in turn connects to Pillsbury State Park.

The newly conserved area includes forested uplands with a significant stand of sugar maples that are managed for the farm’s sugar operation. The forestland is well managed and has high wildlife habitat value with approximately 20 acres of Tier 1 habitat identified in the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Action Plan. The property's wildlife habitat is enhanced by more than 4,000 feet of first order streams and two forested sphagnum bogs.

“All in all, this was a great project with a wonderful family working to pass an active dairy farm down to the next generation,” said Forest Society Senior Director for Strategic Projects – Land Brian Hotz. “The Conservation Commission members were wonderful to work with and more than capable fundraisers for this project.”

Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. Supported by 10,000 families and businesses, the Forest Society’s mission is to perpetuate the state’s forests by promoting land conservation and sustainable forestry. For more information, visit