NELSON — More than three years after purchasing the land, the town will hold a grand opening for its new conservation project next month.
The 580-acre parcel, developed and managed by the Nelson Conservation Commission, stretches from Old Stoddard Road to Brickyard Road, with substantial portions of Osgood and Hurd hills included.
The property also accesses headwaters for three regional watersheds: the Ashuelot River, Nubanusit Brook and the north branch of the Contoocook River.
Richard Church, a member of the commission, said the land was identified as a “prime target” for conservation of natural resources by the town in 2001, as it’s one of the largest unfragmented blocks of land in Nelson.
“It’s just been such a long process,” Church said. “The community has had their eye on that great, big unfragmented piece of land for years and we watched as [the owner] sold little pieces around the edges. Finally, we got to a place where we could make a deal.”
Named Partridge Woods, the property was purchased by the town for $775,000 in April 2016, in partnership with the Harris Center for Conservation Education.
Additional funding was provided by the Partridge Fund — created by longtime Nelson residents and conservation activists Claire and Sydney Partridge, for whom the land is named — and a $150,000 grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund of the U.S. National Park Service.
The land now has opportunities for community members to enjoy it, he said.
“It’s a place that people have gone to walk and pick blueberries and to hunt forever,” Church noted. “Now it feels like a piece of land people can use.”
Several miles of old town roads and logging trails have been developed into walking trails, connecting to two parking lots, giving access to the summit of Osgood Hill and connecting with other trails in the adjoining the Harris Center Super Sanctuary.
Jeremy Wilson, executive director of the center, said the more-than 2,000-acre sanctuary is protected land stretching from Spoonwood Pond to Route 9, providing an expansive block of “critical” wildlife habitat.
“This conservation of this property greatly enhances [the sanctuary],” he said.
The grand opening will be held Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m., at the trailhead off of Brickyard Road. Light refreshments will be served, followed by two hikes.
For more information on the event, contact Church at 847-3206.