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Wildlife sanctuary in Goffstown, Bedford, closer to easements

GOFFSTOWN — A wildlife sanctuary is one step closer to obtaining conservation easements from the town after a public hearing was held on the matter Tuesday.

The first of two public hearings to grant the easements to the Tarr Sanctuary — which will be located in Bedford and Goffstown — was held Tuesday night. No one from the public spoke about the proposal, and a second hearing will be held June 12.

Selectmen will vote on the easements sometime after June 12.

“Barring any negative comments at our second meeting, I’m ready to go forward with it,” said Selectman David Pierce.

Work to establish the sanctuary began roughly two decades ago.

In 1993, Bedford resident Florence Tarr left 500 acres of land in Bedford and Goffstown in a public trust, with the goal of it becoming a wildlife sanctuary. That land is located where the two communities border one another. More than half of the 500 acres is located in Bedford.

In 1996, nearly 200 acres of the parcel were sold by the trust, and the group that purchased the land began missing property tax payments in 2005. In 2009, Bedford officials tax deeded the land for nonpayment, sparking litigation that lasted for years.

In 2015, the New Boston-based Piscataquog Land Conservancy took over the property and is now working to get the proper approvals and pieces in place to establish the wildlife sanctuary.

Though the major purpose of the parcel will be to provide a protected space for wildlife, there will be some amenities added, such as trails.

The property will be posted and will prohibit fishing and hunting in accordance with the guidelines that Florence Tarr established in her will.

In all, the project is expected to cost the PLC about $185,000, some of which will go toward conveying the land and estimated legal fees should questions about the land end up in court again.

Bedford officials have already allocated $75,000 for the project, and the Goffstown Conservation Commission is looking to donate up to $25,000 to the PLC. The remaining funds come from grants and money left over from the Tarr Trust accounts.

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