Rotary Log for February 11, 2021
Our self-proclaimed Club Cupid, a.k.a. President Jon, called the meeting to order. He then led the Pledge. Jon brought in a “ringer” to vocalize a song inspired by the upcoming Valentine’s Day.
Judy (Ringer) beautifully sang Gershwin’s “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” Padre John Rice reprised an old Shaker prayer “Love is Simple.”
Joe Cunningham has been privately gathering music stands for donation to local school music departments. If any Rotarian seeks a new home for their unused music stand, Joe will pick it up at your house.
Nancy Clayburgh reports that $2,500 was raised at a recent Jenness Beach Special Olympics Polar Plunge. The incursion occurred on a snowy 25 degree day!
Jon issued a plaintive appeal for Valentine’s Day gift ideas. Several members suggested a romantic handwritten note. Jon was probably overjoyed at the thought that he is now free to dispense with a $5.95 Hallmark card this year.
Throughout the meeting, Jon wore a Rotary hat. He finally told us why. The prior week he had worn the hat to a local store. A young man there inquired if he was indeed a Rotarian. The lad went on to explain that several years ago he had received a chess set through the Jeremy Alex Foundation. Later, through playing chess with his somewhat-estranged father, they were able to re-establish a relationship. Upon hearing the story, Ted told Jon that as Rotarians we do many things in service. Only later do we learn of all the blessings bestowed.
Ken Murphy introduced our guest speaker, Brian Hart. Since 2002 Brian has been Executive Director of SELT (Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire).
SELT is a non-profit organization. It is dedicated to protecting and sustaining the region’s lands. Its conservation goal is to foster clean water, recreation, fresh food, wildlife diversity and healthy forests.
Brian presented some numbers to us. SELT works through 52 towns in Rockingham and Stafford counties. These cover 31% of the state’s population. SELT has an annual budget of $1.3 million and a professional staff of fifteen people.  
SELT conserves land through two avenues. One employs conservation easements whereby the landowner enters into a legally binding agreement limiting property use. The second avenue involves outright ownership of the land by SELT due to purchase or donation. SELT currently has 23,858 acres of land under conservation. Of these, some 15,114 are under easement and 8,744 are owned outright. These overall numbers have doubled over the last eight years.
SELT pursues three strategies in its conservation efforts. The first focuses on “Farmlands For The Future.” This attempts to maintain arable soil. It also aids new farmers to acquire working management of conserved farmlands.
A second strategic focus is on “Living Landscapes.”  This entails acquiring large blocks of undeveloped land. Wildlife diversity and recreational opportunities are fostered under the plan.
The third strategy is “Protecting Drinking Water.” While land acquisition costs are high, Brian averred that alternative costs of filtration and monitoring at central water facilities are even higher.
Brian concluded his thoughtful presentation by outlining SELT’s plan to establish its headquarters in Epping.  Offices will be at the center of a working farm. Fundraising is underway now for this project. Local business owners can contribute and thereby access New Hampshire Business Tax credits.
Our Four Way Test concluded the meeting. 
Respectfully submitted, Richard Greulich
Photo captures by Don Chick