Hundreds of acres in Webster to be preserved with thought for future generations

  • Some of Drown farm’s heifers at their summer pasture on the Janeway Conservation Area.  Beth McGuinnFive Rivers Conservation Trust

  • Betsy Janeway and her husband, Harold, have donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Betsy Janeway, who with her husband, Harold, has donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust. “We’re getting on, and it’€™s time to start thinking of the future,” she said. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Betsy Janeway who with her husband, Harold, has donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust. “We’re getting on, and it’s time to start thinking of the future,” said Janeway. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Betsy Janeway who with her husband, Harold, has donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust. “We’re getting on, and it’s time to start thinking of the future,” said GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Betsy Janeway who with her husband, Harold, has donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Betsy Janeway who with her husband, Harold, has donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust. “We’re getting on, and it’s time to start thinking of the future,” said GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 7/3/2020 2:45:19 PM
Modified: 7/3/2020 2:45:07 PM

More than 400 acres of forest and farmland near the Blackwater River in Webster will be preserved for nature, farming and perhaps for public use – although that last one won’t be for a while yet.

“We’re getting on, and it’s time to start thinking of the future,” said Betsy Janeway, who with her husband, Harold, has donated 477 acres, including their home, to the Concord-based Five Rivers Conservation Trust.

Under what is known as a “life estate,” the Janeways, who are in their 80s, will continue living there as long as they choose. The Trust will take ownership when they leave.

The Five Rivers Trust has conservation easements, which put limits on future use of property without owning it, on more than 70 properties totaling over 4,400 acres in and around Concord. This is the first time it has signed into a life estate, said Beth McGuinn, the trust’s executive director.

“Easements work well for people who want to own the land, but people who plan to dispose of land and want it to be conserved need other routes,” she said. Easements leave management of land in the hands of the landowner, which is fantastic in many cases. But in some instances it is helpful for the organization to have the opportunity to manage the land.

“We’re excited because this is an opportunity to showcase the kind of management that we would encourage other landowners to do,” she said.

McGuinn said the property would continue paying property taxes at the current use rate. It’s possible that the Trust would sell the home and house lot after the Janeways leave, using the money to help run the property.

The house dates to 1789. The Janeways moved there 43 years ago and raised five children.

“It’s a rambling old farmhouse. When we first came here it looked so sad,” Betsy Janeway said. “There were fleas from the renter’s animals. When we walked in we were barefoot for some reason. The fleas were delighted.”

Betsy Janeway was a teacher and Harold Janeway founded White Mountain Investment in Concord. He was a state senator and served as Webster moderator for 23 years.

Over the decades the Janeways have added more property, including three-quarters of a mile along the Blackwater River, which flows into the Contoocook River. The land has forests and open areas as well as pasture used by Bohanan Farm, which makes Contoocook Creamery products, and the Drown Farm’s heifers each summer.

“In the future we’ll take over management, evaluate what to open to the public, where special communities of plants or animals are. The Janeways have been great advocates for wildlife habitat for many, many years, and wildlife is one of the things that we would want to see as a priority for the property,” said McGuinn.

Betsy Janeway, who taught 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, said she was particularly interested in Five Rivers’ plans to do educational projects on the land.

“Our thoughts are very similar to Five River’s mission,” she said. “They’ve made things uncomplicated for us, although there were a million pieces of paper to sign.”

Five Rivers Conservation Trust was founded in 1988 as Concord Conservation Trust and concentrates on preserving properties in the watersheds of the Merrimack, Contoocook, Blackwater, Warner and Soucook rivers.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)



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