Forest Society Welcomes Public to Creek Farm

October 10, 2006


Jack Savage, VP for Communications & Outreach
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
(603) 224-9945, ext. 330;

Forest Society Welcomes Public to Creek Farm

Chet and Billie Noel’s vision for Creek Farm in Portsmouth is coming into focus –30-acre reservation in Portsmouth provides public access to Sagamore Creek

Portsmouth, N.H., October 11, 2006—The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests will celebrate the public opening of its 30-acre Creek Farm reservation in Portsmouth on Sunday, Oct. 22. Creek Farm includes the diminutive Goose Island and features more than 1,100 feet of shoreline on Sagamore Creek, offering protective habitat for birds and other wildlife and rare public recreational access to the tidal waterfront for kayaks or other portable boats.

“Thanks to Chet and Billie Noel, as well as many generous donors, Creek Farm will remain forever a forested green space in the midst of the City of Portsmouth, open for the enjoyment of seacoast residents and visitors,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. The Forest Society owns and manages the land and the New Hampshire State Department of Resources and Development (DRED) holds a conservation easement on the 30 acres that are open to the public for pedestrian recreation. The easement provides that the property will be maintained and preserved as a conservation area in perpetuity as a tree farm, bird sanctuary and wildlife reservation.

“It was Billie and Chet Noel’s desire to know that the Forest Society would own and manage this important waterfront habitat forever,” said Dan Hoefle, who represents the interests of the estate. The Noel’s vision was to make it possible for the public to enjoy the property as a place to walk, picnic, watch birds, launch canoes and enjoy nature, while providing an important buffer to the neighboring Wentworth-Coolidge State Historic Site.

Pending approval of appropriate permits, the Forest Society will establish a low-impact public parking area. Forest Society staff have been working this fall to create a walking trail and easy access to Sagamore Creek for kayakers. A kiosk near the parking area will show the trail map and interpretive information.

“We foresee ongoing improvements on the property,” said Jack Savage, VP for Communications. “We encourage the public to come by on Oct. 22 for an introduction to Creek Farm, and to return again and again on their own.”

On Sunday Oct. 22 the Forest Society will be hosting hourly guided nature tours with Education Director Dave Anderson from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; refreshments will be served, along with a self-guided coastal scavenger hunt. The welcome reception including remarks from Portsmouth Mayor Steve Marchand and Forest Society president/forester Jane Difley will take place at 3:00 p.m. and is open to the public as well.

The address of Creek Farm is 400 Little Harbor Rd. The property will be open to the public daily from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can explore the rocky intertidal zone and walk to the tidal lagoon and possibly catch a glimpse of kingfisher, blue heron, black backed gulls, and other shore birds.

Once part of the 18th-century farm of royal governor Benning Wentworth, the main house and grounds were created for Arthur Astor Carey in 1888, and then purchased in 1957 by Lillian and Chester Noel, who converted the house to apartments shortly thereafter. The Forest Society, New Hampshire’s oldest and largest land conservation organization and the owner of 150 properties statewide comprising 42,000 acres in 90 different towns, acquired Creek Farm in the year 2000.

Earlier this year the Forest Society announced that a lease agreement had been reached with the Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) to use the large 19th-century summer home on the property as a marine biology classroom and living quarters for students, and as a mainland base for programming conducted on Appledore Island, one of the Isles of Shoals. Shoals Marine Lab is an undergraduate education and research marine biology program that is administered by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University in cooperation with the University of New Hampshire.

“We’re pleased to help make it possible for the people of New Hampshire in general and the citizens of Portsmouth in particular to enjoy these 30 acres of spectacular coastal woodland,” Difley said.

DIRECTIONS: From I-95: Take exit 5, Portsmouth Traffic Circle, to Route 1 By-Pass south. Take a left onto Greenleaf Avenue, then a left onto Lafayette Road, right onto South Street then right onto Route 1-A south, Sagamore Avenue. Take your first left after the cemetery onto Little Harbor Road. Creek Farm is on the right just before the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.