Conservation and preservation: LCHIP grants in the Mt. Sunapee area

The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) is an independent state authority working to preserve New Hampshire’s vital natural, cultural, and historic resources.

The 2018 LCHIP grants, announced in December, support two projects in the Mount Sunapee area: revitalization of the Goshen Grange building and land conservation along the North Branch of the Sugar River.

The Sunapee Mountain Grange #144

The Town of Goshen received $95,385 to help renovate the historic Grange Hall on Mill Village Road in the center of town. The grant will allow the Town to return the building to community use, providing needed Town and school office space.

The Sunapee Mountain Grange #144, Goshen, was listed on the N.H. State Register of Historic Places in 2003.

The structure (built in 1853) first served as a house of worship, the Christian Chapel. Then, a Methodist denomination acquired the building (1878 – 1887) and moved it from Brook Road to its current location in the center of the “Mill Village.”

In 1892, the third owner, the Sunapee Mountain Grange, took over the building.

In Goshen, as in numerous other rural New Hampshire communities, the Grange objective to create better farmers and better citizens was pursued through its regular weekly meetings in the hall. Besides providing “mutual instruction and protection,” these meetings provided the central social occasions in the lives of most members. …

From the 1890s until the conclusion of the Second World War, Goshen’s Grange Hall was at the center of the town’s economic, political, and social life. – History of the Grange Hall (pdf), authored by Goshen Historical Society members Bea Jillette and John and Mary Wirkkala.

The local Grangers ended their charter and donated the building to the Town in 2002. The Friends of the Goshen Grange has maintained the building since that time.

The restoration proposal is available for review at the Goshen Town Office. The total project cost is just over $190,000.

Conservation of Ruger land adjacent to Corbin Park

The Conservation Fund received an LCHIP grant of $200,000 to help create a 3,181-acre wildlife preserve in Croydon, Grantham, and Newport.

The North Branch Sugar River Conservation Project includes 2,400 acres of forest, 350 acres of ponds and wetlands, and miles of stream frontage, all open for public recreation including fishing and hunting.

This is a multi-faceted effort that will allow the New Hampshire Fish and Game Commission to acquire the property for public use.

Before his death in 2018, Willam Ruger Jr. sold the land to the Conservation Fund, a national non-profit. Other funding in part comes from the Pittman-Robertson Act, which provides federal monies (derived from the sale of firearms) for the management and restoration of wildlife. Ruger served as CEO of gun maker Sturm, Ruger & Co., the company co-founded by his father.

The conserved land abuts Corbin Park, a private game preserve, and runs along the North Branch of the Sugar River.

“The North Branch is a popular fly-fishing destination, heavily stocked by the state with brown, brook and rainbow trout. The properties connect to other woodland and wetland habitat, making nearly 49,000 acres of unfragmented habitat, the largest such block south of the White Mountains,” reported the Eagle Times.

The cost of the total project is about $3.5 million. N.H. Fish and Game is expected to take ownership in early 2019.

The 2018 LCHIP awards went to 42 projects across the state and they will receive $3.9 million in matching grants. Visit the LCHIP website for more information.

The photos are courtesy of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program.

Copyright 2019 Friends of Mount Sunapee