By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – The historic First Baptist Church of Gilmanton that is badly in need of repairs and 3,500 acres of forestland and river frontage in Bethlehem are among 33 land protection and historic projects across all 10 counties that received $3.5 million in matching grant awards.
More than 100 representatives of the community, conservation and historic projects packed into the Executive Council Chamber at the State House Wednesday for the announcement of the awards through the popular Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, better known as LCHIP.
Gov. Chris Sununu, who vetoed a bill that would have increased funding to LCHIP because it would add costs to property transfers, said the program is a good one and continues to provide great benefit to the state’s heritage and open landscapes.
LCHIP Board Chair Amanda Merrill of Durham said this particular grant round was highly competitive with over $7 million in funding requests compared to $3.5 million available for grants.
Not everyone got a piece of the action.
“The LCHIP Board of Directors was particularly impressed with the variety and quality of projects seeking support this year,” Merrill said.
In total, 12 natural resource projects will be used to permanently protect 22 acres of farmland in Winchester and 1,368 acres of wildlife habitat in Gilsum.
Sheridan Brown of Grantham was at the State House to receive an award for land preservation along Sawyer Brook. In the Hall of Flags, he expressed the collaborative and community effort that helped make a difference in the quality of life in the Lake Sunapee area and Upper Valley.
Other projects include preservation money for five farms and more than 16 miles of river and pond frontage and 10,000 maple taps.
Dijit Taylor, executive director of LCHIP, summarized the projects.
She said the organization is awarding a $400,000 grant to help The Nature Conservancy purchase 1,368-acre Surry Mountain in Gilsum. A conservation easement held by the state Department of Fish and Game will further ensure public access to the property and top-notch management for black bears, bobcats, fishers and other wildlife.
Remote Lily Pond, miles of stream frontage, acres of bogs, beaver ponds and other wetland areas are included and protect drinking water for people downstream.
Grants are being awarded to 21 historic resource projects for structures that date from the 1759 Ebenezer Hinsdale House in Hinsdale to Belmont’s 1928 library.
Restorations to be carried out with assistance from LCHIP include repair or replacement of leaking roofs, re-pointing mortar in walls and chimneys, rebuilding historic shutters, structural repairs to failing framing and foundations and more.
The town of Newport will receive up to $87,750 from LCHIP for rehabilitating the 1886 Opera House, an iconic downtown presence. Once noted as the largest performance venue north of Boston, the building fell into disrepair by the mid-twentieth century.
A restoration in the 1970s returned the building to its 19th-century grandeur and reestablished its importance to the community as a performance and gathering space.
These grants from LCHIP will be matched by more than $10 million from other public and private sources.
LCHIP was created by the legislature in 2000 with a legislative mandate to ensure the perpetual contribution of natural, cultural and historic resources to the economy, environment, and quality of life in New Hampshire.
In all, there have been 466 grants that have helped to conserve more than 290,000 acres of land for food production, water quality, ecological values, timber management, and recreation and supported 280 projects to rehabilitate historic structures and sites.
For more information, visit https://lchip.org/