Thompson Forest, Durham
Good things come to those who wait. For four generations, the Thompson family worked on and cared for 200 acres of forest and dairy farm. For over twenty years, they worked to find a way to conserve the land permanently. Sitting atop the Spruce Hole Aquifer, with 3500 feet of frontage on the Wild and Scenic Lamprey River and proximity to other conserved land, many partners (including the Lamprey Rivers Advisory Committee) shared the dream of protecting this land. In 2016, the final 53 acres that constitute the Thompson Forest project were added and the Southeast Land Trust (SELT) acquired the conservation easement.
When the Thompson family ran its farm operations, public access was limited. With the change in ownership, the Thompson Dairy has become Thompson Forest and is undergoing some big landscape changes. Some of the pasture formerly used for grazing dairy cows is being converted to create open/shrubby habitat for threatened wildlife. Invasive plants are being removed and replaced by species that are more useful to wildlife. The Town of Durham and SELT have created walking trails through both the fields and forest that will allow people to learn about and enjoy the property while protecting sensitive areas.
After waiting two years for the changed landscape to recover, the LRAC installed a new kiosk panel in 2019 to help visitors appreciate this public walking trail. Dogs on leashes and respectful bicyclists are welcome.