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RSA 4:29 grants the Governor and Executive Council authority for the acquisition of land for state parks and forests. RSA 4:40 authorizes the Governor and Executive Council to sell, lease or otherwise convey state land with the recommendation of the head of the department having jurisdiction over the land.

1891 - Miller State Park in Peterborough was the first state land acquired for forest and recreation purposes

Miller State Park located on the summit of South Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, acquired in 1891, is acknowledged to be the first state property for forest and recreation purposes. Since then, a program of land acquisition has been carried out primarily by gift and purchase.

Percy Peaks, Nash Stream Forest

Nash Stream Forest
Acquired 1989

A good part of the state park and forest system was gifted to the state during the 1920's through the 1940's. A factor in this activity was the entrusting provision of chapter 163 laws of 1915 entitled "An Act for the Reforestation of Waste and Cut-over lands." Under the provisions of this act, a landowner could deed land to the state at no cost to the state. The State Forestry Commission was authorized to reforest the land. The donor could repurchase their "improved" land from the state within ten years at the cost of reforestation plus interest at four percent. Much land was repurchased but many parcels remain in state ownership today.

 


In addition, a number of reservations were given to the state by private resource conservation organizations to be held for public use and benefit.  The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests has played a key role in state acquisition of several reservations. Several reservations were acquired from the federal government including Bear Brook State Park in Allenstown and Odiorne State Park in Rye.  There have been occasional parcels of land sold or otherwise conveyed but this has been rare.

State land acquisitions through the Land Conservation and Investment Program (LCIP), under the authority of RSA 221-A enacted in 1987(repealed), re-enacted as RSA 162-C, increased department land holdings by nearly 50 percent over a period of several years.  More than 47,000 acres acquired through LCIP were assigned to the department as additions to existing land holdings and as new reservations. The LCIP was established to acquire lands through voluntary negotiations with landowners to protect lands of natural beauty and preserve New Hampshire's the rural character.

 Real property proposed to be acquired by DRED is reviewed based on the following criteria:

Reservation Acreage
Over the Years
(nearest 100 acres)

Year

Acres

1910

600

1920

12,400

1930

29,400

1940

41,000

1950

55,700

1960

63,700

1970

78,900

1980

102,500

1990

158,800

2000

167,463

 2010

167,608

  • Seacoast property (ocean front, estuaries, salt marsh or contiguous upland)
  • In holding (totally within existing State ownership)
  • Land with frontage on a great pond or river
  • Intrusions into existing State ownership (State owns on 3 sides)
  • Lands abutting existing State ownership
  • Lands connecting State ownership

Separate parcels will be considered only if they have outstanding forestry or recreation value or possess some unusual or specialized natural or cultural values that warrant protection and/or preservation.

  • For State Forest acquisition, the parcel must be of sufficient size, considering its site quality, growing stock and species composition to make a manageable multiple use unit of public land or is likely to be enlarged to such size by acquisition of abutting land.
  • For State Parks acquisition, the parcel must be of sufficient size considering its proposed use, to make a manageable recreation facility or is likely to be enlarged to such size by acquisition of abutting land.
  • For protection/preservation acquisition, the parcel must be of unique or unusual scenic, scientific, historic, cultural or natural value or specialized tracts such as marshes, reservoir sites, flood plains, scenic outlooks, natural areas, public access sites or high elevation (mountain top) land.

Acquisition Process

Funding for DRED land acquisition projects is achieved through the legislative process.

  • Capital budget requests are prepared and followed through the legislative process. Provisions are made for use of Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds and for land acquisition overhead costs (appraisal, title search, recordings, taxes, etc.).
  • The legislature may direct acquisition of a state forest or state park by statute and make the necessary appropriation

Acquisitions may be in fee simple title or less than fee title, including but not limited to easements, development rights, leases or acquisition of other rights or interests as may be approved by Governor and Executive Council.

Disposal / Exchange

Real property is declared surplus to DRED needs if it meets the following criteria:

  • Because of size or location, the parcel does not make a manageable unit of state property.
  • The parcel does not posses any natural or man-made features that warrant its retention as a state forest or park.
  • The need or use for which the parcel was acquired no longer exists.
  • Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds were not utilized in acquisition or a replacement parcel has been approved by the National Park Service and is being acquired.
  • The deed conveying title to the State does not have any restrictive covenants or reservations that would prevent the property's disposal or such covenants/reservations have been waived by the Grantor.
  • The parcel's fair market value far exceeds natural resources value as state forest or state park and revenue from disposal will be used for acquiring replacement property or greater natural resource value, or the parcel is being exchanged for a parcel of greater natural resource value and greater fair market value.

A written "finding of public interest" justifying the disposal/exchange is developed.

All disposals/exchanges are screened through the Council on Resources and Economic Development for their recommended disposition and for the interest of other state agencies and the town and county in which the property is located.

All disposals/exchanges are screened through the Long Range Capital Planning and Utilization Committee of the legislature for their recommended disposition.

Real property disposals/exchanges must be approved by Governor and Executive Council.