FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2018
Shelly Angers, Department of Natural & Cultural Resources
Partnership Conserves nearly 24,000 Acres of Working Forests in New Hampshire's North Country
Decade-long effort supports forest-based jobs and the local economy, while safeguarding critical wildlife habitat and ensuring recreational access
BERLIN, NH – The New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands and The Conservation Fund announced today the completion of a multi-year effort to secure a 24,000-acre landscape of working forestland in Coos County near the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in the Mahoosuc Mountains.
The private-public partnership recently acquired a working forest conservation easement on 14,987 acres owned and managed by private landowners using funding from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program, through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, and both state and private funding. This easement is held by the State of New Hampshire's Division of Forests and Lands, and together with another easement on an adjacent 8,700 acres surrounding Success Pond ensures the forest will be sustainably managed for the production of responsibly harvested timber and will be open for public outdoor recreation into the future. The forestland will continue to support local and regional jobs while providing timber to mills in New Hampshire, Maine and Canada.
The newly protected forest provides critical water supply, aquatic habitat and watershed protection that features 35 square miles of the Androscoggin River watershed, 78 miles of perennial streams, 467 acres of ponds and lakes, and 1,200 acres of wetlands and important wildlife habitat.
"Conserving these important properties, rich in natural resources, is one of the most important things we can do for future generations, not just for plants and wildlife, but also for people," said Brad Simpkins, director of the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands.
This historic effort is central to a mosaic of public lands spanning the New Hampshire-Maine border and is a key component of a bi-state economic and conservation initiative to sustain the forest industry and to develop world class outdoor recreation in the Mahoosuc Region, including hunting, fishing, hiking and motorized recreation. The forestlands also provide critical habitat for rare, threatened and endangered species, including the federally threatened Canada lynx and the state-threatened American marten, common loon and bald eagle.
"The fabric of community in New Hampshire's North Country is defined by the bond of the people to working forests, wild lands, wildlife, recreation and livelihoods in this region," said Nancy Bell, Vermont and New Hampshire director for The Conservation Fund. "This is evident with the unflagging and diverse support for this project from the N.H. Fish and Game Department, Coos County Commissioners, the Appalachian Mountain Club, the City of Berlin, the Androscoggin Valley Fish and Game Association, snowmobiles clubs and others taking a stand to keep their landscape, communities and values intact to create a future of their own invention!"
More than $4.64 million in federal funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program, together with donations from the landowner and The Conservation Fund, and with support from C&S Wholesale Grocers and U-Haul made this landscape-scale conservation success possible.
A bipartisan, federal program more than 50 years, LWCF uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect our country's best natural resources and recreational access. Both the LWCF and the Forest Legacy Program are annually funded by the U.S. Congress, and receive strong support from New Hampshire's U.S. Congressional delegation representing Coos County: U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and U.S. Representative Ann McLane Kuster.
The LWCF will expire on September 30 unless Congress acts to reauthorize it.
"Continued land conservation efforts are critical to New Hampshire's economy, environment and wildlife, so I'm very pleased that measures to protect working forestland in Coos County will be prioritized through this partnership between The Conservation Fund and the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands," said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. "This conservation easement will help ensure the protection of our forests while also allowing for sustainable timber harvests and investments in our state's outdoor recreation economy, which is significant for the North Country's workforce. I appreciate the Land and Water Conservation Fund's continued support of conservation efforts in New Hampshire, including this public-private partnership, which is why I'll keep fighting to permanently authorize the LWCF to build on this program's important work."
"Protecting our beautiful natural resources in New Hampshire is critical to the health of our environment and strength or our economy," Sen. Maggie Hassan said. "I am proud of this public-private partnership for working together—with support from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund—to conserve nearly 24,000 acres of working forests in the North Country, boosting conservation efforts in the region and supporting the local economy by ensuring that the forest remains open for public recreation going forward. I'll keep fighting to ensure that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is funded so that we can best protect our natural resources and environment for generations to come."
"New Hampshire's wilderness and the responsible management of our forests are central to our state's identity, Rep. Ann McLane Kuster said. "I want to commend the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands and the Conservation Fund for their dedicated work to preserve this landscape in the North Country. Conservation isn't just about protecting our environment and wildlife, it's about supporting our economy and ensuring that future generations are able to enjoy the Granite State we know and love."
"This project in the Mahoosuc Mountains is a good example of what can be achieved when we work together for the common goal of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of New England forests," said Clare Mendelsohn, forest supervisor, White Mountain National Forest. "Our natural resource challenges require collective action by various government, non-profit and private land managers. The forest health and habitat issues we see on the White Mountain National Forest do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries. This is why it is so important to have an integrated approach to making investments that will help achieve a resilient landscape. The Forest commends the hard work that went into making this happen, and we are excited to work with our new neighbors to continue our focus on supporting rural economies in Maine and New Hampshire."
Over the past 15 years more than 20 million acres of America's privately-owned, large-scale working forests have been lost. As these landscapes change hands, they are often threatened by parcelization and changes in land use, significantly impacting the forest's ability to clean the air and filter the water for entire regions, protect critical habitat for wildlife, and keep local jobs and rural economies intact. The Conservation Fund, through its Working Forest Fund® program, is working in New Hampshire, the Northeast and across the country to protect these ecologically and economically important forests.
About the New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands
The Division of Forests and Lands protects and promotes the values provided by trees, forests, and natural communities. Our work is accomplished through responsible management of the state's forested resources; by providing forest resource information and education to the public; and through the protection of these resources for the continuing benefit of the state's citizens, visitors, and forest industry. For more information visit us at nhdfl.org.
About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect eight million acres of land, including more than 51,000 acres in New Hampshire. For more information, visit conservationfund.org.