Press Release: Lake Massabesic Shoreline Conserved

Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests and Manchester Water Works protect 77 acres in Auburn

March 10, 2020
A view of a lake in summer sunshine with a sailboat on the water.

Lake Massabesic is an asset to the city of Manchester and the surrounding towns which rely on the lake as a source of drinking water. (Photo A. Berry)

AUBURN, NH (March 10, 2020)— Manchester Water Works (MWW) and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) worked together to permanently conserve a 77.46-acre property in Auburn. The conservation easement project conserves the majority of the last undeveloped parcel of land on Lake Massabesic not already owned by Manchester Water Works. Lake Massabesic is the surface water drinking source for over 165,000 residents in the City of Manchester and surrounding towns.

The new conservation easement conserves 1,878 feet of undeveloped shoreline providing a critical forested buffer to Lake Massabesic. The wooded property and its 4.9 acres of wetlands serve to trap nutrients and sediment running off Route 28 from draining into the lake. The conservation easement is entirely within the Source Water Protection Area for Lake Massabesic. Much of the property supports a mature, Appalachian oak-pine forest and hemlock-beech-oak-pine forest.

“The Forest Society has long recognized that one of the ways that our work protecting forests connects to people’s everyday lives is by providing clean drinking water,” said Jack Savage, president for the Forest Society. “Forests provide a critical buffer in maintaining the health of our waterways, acting as filters for the sediments and pollutants from farm fields, residential lawns, and roadways to help keep them from reaching the water.”

“Once again the Forest Society and Manchester Water Works have come together to protect the drinking water quality for Manchester residents,” said Mayor Joyce Craig, City of Manchester. “Providing clean, high-quality drinking water is a primary goal for the City. By preserving our natural resources and guaranteeing this land will not be developed, Manchester Water Works and the Forest Society are ensuring our water quality will remain pristine for future generations.”

“The purchase of the easement by the Forest Society and Manchester Water Works provides a guarantee that this critical land will not be developed now or in the future,” said Brian Hotz, vice president for land conservation for the Forest Society. “This particular parcel of land is a priority of the Merrimack Valley Regional Conservation Plan and connects to other conserved lands surrounding Lake Massabesic owned by Manchester Water Works.”

The property may also support a number of rare and threatened species of plants and animals. The NH Natural Heritage Bureau reports that common loon, bald eagles, and spotted and Blanding’s turtles are all found in the lake and on its shores.

The project was funded through a mixture of local, municipal and state grants, including the following funders, The NH Department of Environmental Services Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund, NH Department of Environmental Service Water Supply Land Protection Grant Program, New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund, the City of Manchester (Manchester Water Works), and the Merrimack Conservation Partnership.

“Manchester Water Works is the source of drinking water for a growing number of communities across the southern tier of the state. Conserving the majority of the last undeveloped land on the shoreline of Lake Massabesic is a huge win for all of us,” said Senator Chuck Morse, chairman of the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund Commission.

“NHDES is happy to support this project with grants from the Aquatic Resource Mitigation grant program and the Water Supply Land Protection Grant Program, since the project presents an opportunity to protect valuable wetlands and uplands, both of which in turn protect a water supply that’s used by so much of the state,” said Bob Scott, Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

In 2019, Manchester Water Works and the Forest Society jointly conserved 1,942 acres surrounding Tower Hill Pond in Candia and Hooksett. Thanks to multiple grants and private donors, the Forest Society acquired a conservation easement on the land that MWW will continue to own and manage. The nearly 2,000 acres is part of the 8,000 acres the Manchester Water Works owns and manages to ensure clean drinking water to the City of Manchester and surrounding towns.

Officials from the City of Manchester and the Society for the Protection of NH Forests make the land conservation official.

Leaders present at the signing at City Hall included Forest Society President Jack Savage (second from left) and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig (middle).


The Forest Society is a private, non-profit land trust and forestry organization established in 1901. It currently holds more than 750 conservation easements statewide permanently protecting more than 135,000 acres of New Hampshire’s landscapes. The Forest Society also owns 190 forest reservations constituting more than 57,000 acres in 105 New Hampshire communities.


The Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund (DWGTF) was established in 2016 with funds from the State’s lawsuit against ExxonMobil for its role in contamination of the State’s groundwater with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MtBE).  The New Hampshire jury found the ExxonMobil guilty and awarded the State $276M for damages.  This money, plus interest, was used to establish the DWGTF.  In the past three years, $3.78M has been awarded in grant funds for the protection of over 5,400 acres of critical water supply lands.

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