ROCHESTER — One of Rochester’s working farms will soon forever be protected from development, helping safeguard a river and watershed that the U.S. Forest Service considers the third-most imperiled in the nation.
Gauthier’s Farm, a 160-acre farm that spans 1.4 miles of the Salmon Falls River, is nearing the final stages of obtaining a conservation easement. The efforts have been ongoing since 2015 and have involved a number of key local entities, including the Gauthier family, Rochester’s Conservation Commission and City Council, and the Southeast Land Trust.
“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for the city of Rochester,” said SELT Conservation Project Manager Jeremy Lougee. “It’s a rapidly developing region in the state and it’s traditionally had a sense of rural character and agrarian roots. It’s a little like driving into the past when you’re down there along Salmon Falls Road. It’s really important to preserve that because it’s where New Hampshire comes from.”
The farm has been in the Gauthier family for roughly 50 years. Today, it’s used for a number of agricultural purposes, including hay, maple syrup, eggs, produce and meat. It’s also home to Stump City Cider hard cider and wine, which is growing an apple orchard on the property, as well as the Salmon Falls Disc Golf Course.
Fundraising for the easement has been completed and the parcel will soon receive its final appraisal, after which the easement and deed review process will begin. Officials anticipate the process will be completed in the fall.
In total, the easement will cost “a little less” than $470,000, according to Lougee. The City Council and Conservation Commission appropriated $128,650 and $100,000, respectively, for the project, while roughly $200,000 came through the National Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program, and $33,200 came from Boston-based…