Will impending housing bubble be a bonus for conservation?
New Hampshire's Northwood Meadows State Park is a 675 acre green swath in rapidly growing Rockingham County. Easily accessible to the state's urban centers, Northwood Meadows not only protects valuable habitat but provides recreational opportunities for thousands of Granite Staters.
How this park came to be, was through fate and fast action. New Hampshire's housing market was sizzling in the late 1980's placing development pressure on thousands of acres of farmlands, forests, and prime wildlife habitat throughout the state. Northwood Meadows was approved to become yet another cookie-cutter housing development. Then-the market tanked! Real estate prices plummeted and over-extended developers went belly up. Northwood Meadows became defaulted property now owned by the bank.
Conservationists saw an incredible opportunity. Through the Trust for New Hampshire Lands they were able to purchase the property for a bargain price. The timing of the market and the foresight of the environmental community saved this property from eventually becoming a housing tract in a fairly undeveloped area. It now provides wonderful hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and wildlife viewing for thousands of Granite Staters and visitors.
With a housing market sizzling again, will we see a repeat of the late 80s bust? Certainly speculators have some worry-and certainly some markets are beginning to cool down. Perhaps if some sanity takes control of the market-and once again weeds out the get-rich-quick schemers-then perhaps we will have some incredible opportunities to purchase some key conservation properties once more. I know that I welcome a housing correction-not only to provide working families with the chance to own their own home-but also to secure homes for threatened wildlife from Maine to Washington. Keep your eyes posted on those listings.