The Association seeks to protect water quality within the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed, preserve open space, protect natural habitat of wildlife or plants, preserve or enhance the viewshed, and preserve natural areas for passive outdoor recreation and scenic enjoyment by the general public. Please see the Association’s Land Acquisition and Management Policy at the bottom of this page.
An organization such as the Wentworth Watershed Association can protect property in a number of ways. It is worth noting that, in just about every case, the interests of the property owner and those of the conservation organization are not identical, and it is important that all parties understand the relative advantages and obligations of each method.
Find out more about the Association’s Preserves & Conservation Areas
The Association also acts as a land trust with considerable land holdings totaling 175 acres of sensitive land in the Lake Wentworth and Crescent Lake watershed. These parcels were inherited by the LWF in 2001 from Linda Baldwin, a summer resident of Wentworth Park. The LWF purchased the 2.2 acre Allen Stevens Preserve on Pleasant Valley Road in 2012. The following properties are the Association’s main holdings:
- Allen ‘A’ Preserve: 13 acres includes portions of both Harvey and Hersey (Tyler) brooks, as well as frontage on route 28, Moose Point Road, Albee Beach Road, and the TRAC Cotton Valley Trail.
- Allen Irwin Stevens Preserve: The preserve, a 2.2-acre property with 460 feet of frontage on Pleasant Valley Road, is located at the entrance to the Point Breeze condominium community, approximately two miles from the road’s intersection with South Main St.
- Brewster Heath Preserve: The 111 acre property, named the Brewster Heath Preserve is owned by the Association and the Conservation Easement is held by the Town of Wolfeboro Conservation Commission.
- Cotton Valley Trail Easement: Approximately 5 acres in size with 1800 feet of frontage on Cotton Valley Trail.
- Hersey Point Preserve: 15 acres located on Hersey Point Road, protecting Hersey (Tyler) Brook and part of the Cotton Valley Trail. Part of this preserve is in conservation easement.
- Linda Baldwin Preserve: 35 acres along Route 28, protecting Fernald Brook and several wetlands. Part of this preserve is in conservation easement.
- McBride Conservation Area: This land extends from Porcupine Cove in Crescent Lake to the Heath.
- Square Hill Preserve: 67.3 acres on Square Hill off Allen Road, protecting Hersey (Tyler) Brook and tributaries to Sargent’s Pond.
- Square Hill Lot 6: 23.5 acres located near Square Hill.
- Warren Brook Conservation Area:
These land holdings are not included in the conservation land data file from UNH GRANIT (Appendix C) but are important to include in future development scenarios since these lands will most likely be kept in conservation by the LWF. With 83.3% of the watershed undeveloped, there is opportunity for the expansion of conserved land in the region.
Types of Land Holdings
The property owner gives up development rights but retains ownership and financial responsibility for a property. Under strict IRS guidelines, the property owner may qualify for a federal income tax deduction for a donation of a conservation easement. Local property taxes are still due, but application may be made to the Town for a reduced assessment pursuant to NH RSA 79-B Conservation Restriction and the property may qualify for a current use assessment under NH RSA 79-A. The easement holder accepts responsibility for monitoring compliance with the conditions of the easement.
Under strict IRS guidelines, the property owner may qualify for an income tax deduction for a donation of the property. Although title to the property is held by a charitable organization, it will still be subject to local property taxes, unless the property is deemed to be used for the tax-exempt purposes of the organization, which do not include maintaining the property as open space. The organization also needs to provide liability coverage for the property.
The property owner obtains all or some percentage of fair market value. For the conservation organization, the tax and liability obligations are the same as with donated property.
This is essentially a backup easement held by one organization on another’s conservation easement. It provides for takeover of responsibilities and obligations should the holder of the conservation easement be unable to fulfill its obligations.
Preserves Not Held
Considerable effort has gone into the protection of land in the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed not only to protect critical wildlife habitat and other environmentally sensitive land and water resources, but also to provide low-impact public recreational access to these natural resources. Land conservation is one of many tools for protecting lake water quality for future generations. Several local, state and federal organizations have a rich history of land conservation in the watershed.
Land conservation is essential to the health of a region, particularly for the protection of water resources, enhancement of recreation opportunities, vitality of local economies, and preservation of wildlife habitat. Based on available data from the
Maine Office of GIS, conservation land in the Lake Wentworth watershed covers 2.61 square miles (1,670 acres) or approximately 7.3% of the watershed (Appendix C). The conserved land is characterized by conservation easements (42%) and fee ownership (58%). The conservation easements are owned by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (61.4%), the Town of Wolfeboro (26.6%), and the Society for Protection of NH Forests (12.0%). The fee ownership properties are owned by the Lakes Region
Conservation Trust (40.6%), the Town of Wolfeboro (28.8%), the NH Department of Resources & Economic Development (14.8%), the Nature Conservancy (10.9%), and the NH Department of Transportation (4.9%). Many of the fee ownership properties are town-managed woodlots or recreational areas.
The more well-known conserved lands in the watershed include:
Located on the northeastern shore of Lake Wentworth along Route 109 (Governor Wentworth Highway). The 50 acre preserve was purchased by the State of New Hampshire in 1932, and the state park was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933 to 1942.
Located in the middle of Lake Wentworth, Stamp Act Island is approximately 4,000 feet long at its widest, and 1,200 feet wide, with 12,000 feet of shoreline, totally in 100 acres. The island was purchased as protected land by The Nature Conservancy in 1977 through the impressive fundraising efforts of the Lake Wentworth Association and community residents.