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Help Us Build a Better Durham

At a recent UNH Cooperative Extension Main Street Academy, one of the highlighted strategies for adding great value through community development is by the use of the nature economy. Durham is located in one of fastest growing regions of the New Hampshire, yet we have retained some remarkable properties. Through the work of the Land Stewardship Committee and countless volunteers, a trail network is being built. The core principles of the effort are to connect our properties and maintain the network. We think the acquisition of the Orchard Drive Woods property is a great opportunity for residents and will help attract people to our community. It will provide a hiking and biking trail route from downtown and downtown neighborhoods to the Doe Farm property and beyond.

Where is Orchard Drive Woods?

Orchard Drive is in the Foss Farm neighborhood. A 25 acre parcel on the road was donated to the Oyster River School System, but since much of the property is wetlands, it can't be used for a new school. The School Board decided to sell the property, and they are allowing time for private funds to be raised to meet the bargain $150,000 purchase price. Donations are stored in a trust fund created by the Town Council. Once the purchase price has been raised, the Town will buy the land and Durham Land Stewardship will maintain it.

The parcel is important because it directly abuts UNH's East Foss Farm and MacDonald Lot properties and is part of a larger collection of non-commercial land that includes large tracts of New Hampshire Fish and Game property.

Land Stewardship Director Ellen Snyder and the Land Stewardship Committee have been working with UNH and NH Fish and Game to develop agreements to connect the parcels with trails. Their plan includes upgrading exiting trails, adding new trails, a kiosk, and parking. The network would provide access for hiking, biking, and cross country skiing and would extend from downtown Durham to Doe Farm.

After the property is purchased, private funds would be used to build a small footbridge over the Oyster River near the wood's entrance at the end of Thompson Lane.

How can I Help Make This A Reality?

$150,000 needs to be raised from grants and private sources to purchase the property, and additional funds are needed to build the bridge. Any funds raised in excess of our goal will be transferred to Durham's Land Stewardship Patron's Trust and will be used for trail improvements. There is no minimum contribution amount. Every donation, however small, proves support for the project and makes a stronger case for our grant proposals. Over $60,000 has already been collected, and we need to raise the additional $90,000 balance by the end of August to be considered for a New Hampshire Recreational Trails Program grant.

To donate, print a copy of the Orchard Drive Woods Acquisition Gift form. It can be mailed to or dropped off at the Durham Business Office at Town Hall. If you have questions about the donation process, email Deb Ahlstrom at If you want more information about the project, send an email to Dennis Meadows at LATAILLEDE@AOL.COM

Please get involved and help us build a better Durham.

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