RUMFORD — An anonymous New Hampshire land donor's wishes in 1999 were recently honored by The Nature Conservancy when it sold a 4,632-acre parcel in Rumford, Milton Township and Woodstock to a computer programmer in Long Island, N.Y.
Prior to closing the deal in June with Cristian Mata of Concord River Holdings LLC, the conservancy worked with the Mahoosuc Land Trust of Bethel to place a conservation easement on the land to permanently protect it as a working forest.
“We were pleased to honor the donor's wishes to keep these lands open and undeveloped and part of the local forest products economy, which is what they've been for generations,” William Brune, director of land protection for the conservancy, said Wednesday.
That means the parcels cannot be subdivided or developed, and no wind farms can be built on the land. The Concord River parcel, however, abuts land in Woodstock on which the Spruce Mountain Wind Farm has been proposed by Patriot Renewables LLC, Brune said.
Much of the land is along the north side of Milton Road and to the west of Concord Pond between Abbotts Mill in Milton Township and Mount Zircon in Rumford, with a large section on Spruce Mountain in Woodstock and two smaller parcels on Chamberlain Mountain in Milton.
It has a small amount of frontage along Concord Pond in Woodstock and 10,000 feet of frontage along the Concord River, which is actually a stream, said Jim Mitchell, executive director of the Mahoosuc Land Trust.
“It's a good piece of working forestland and people can still use it for recreation,” Mitchell said. “Part of our mission is to protect traditional land uses, so it seemed like an appropriate thing for us.”
That means the mixed hardwoods and softwood forests will be used for sustainable timber harvesting.
“Recreation is at the discretion of the landowner in accordance with Maine traditions,” Brune said.
“Part of our responsibility is to look over it and make sure that conditions of the easement are being upheld,” Mitchell said of the trust. “Concord River Holdings can sell the property, but they can't subdivide it and they can't have buildings on it.”
Brune said the 4,632-acre parcel, which is still listed for sale at $3.16 million on LandWatch.com by real estate brokerage and land consulting company Fountains Land of Montpelier, Vt., was one of several parcels in Western Maine that were donated to the conservancy in 1999.
Some have been transferred to other conservation organizations and others publicly listed for sale along with the Concord River Parcel for some time, Brune said.
“This is the first package to go,” he said. “It's a rather unique situation driven by donor intent. These areas are not phenomenally globally significant, but we just thought they would benefit from protection.”
Mitchell and Brune said that when the land was donated to the conservancy, the donor said they could sell it and use the revenue proceeds to support the conservancy or permanently protect it with an easement.
The conservancy decided to keep the property before selling it this year.
“Owning land comes with tremendous management obligations, so we felt that private ownership would be a better use for it,” Brune said. “We're a pretty lean organization. We are not in the general practice of selling land. We live and die by donor intent.”
Both men said there are two areas where timber harvesting isn't allowed. The first is near a place where bats hibernate during the winter that is just off the property, and the second is an enriched northern hardwoods zone between Davis Mountain and the Concord River.