Forest Society Reaches land protection Record in 2007
Conserves More Than One Acre of Land Per Hour
Concord, NH, January 23, 2008--Thanks to the generosity of numerous individual donors, dozens of landowners, and in collaboration with many partners, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests permanently protected more than 10,000 acres in 2007. In all, the Forest Society completed 48 conservation projects totaling 10,355 acres, including working forests, water resources, critical wildlife habitat, historic farmland, and important community lands.
“We have been keenly aware of the need to ramp up our capacity to conserve land,” said Jane Difley, president/forester. “This milestone reflects a concerted effort to become more strategic about our land protection goals. Working with willing landowners, we want to make sure we protect the right acres, so that our forests can continue to provide the economic and ecologic resources that ensure a high quality of life in New Hampshire.”
Six years ago on the occasion if its 100th anniversary the Forest Society put forward a strategic vision, “New Hampshire Everlasting,” that calls for the protection of one million additional acres statewide by the year 2026. The Forest Society has set out to conserve 25 percent of that total, or 250,000 acres, on its own by 2026. In recent years, the Forest Society has completed 35-40 projects conserving an average of under 6,000 acres annually.
Conservation easements made up 9,428 acres, with most of the balance in permanent fee-owned reservations. The Forest Society currently owns 157 forest reservations totaling nearly 43,000 acres, and holds over 600 easements totaling more than 100,000 acres.
“While we’re pleased to reach the 10,000-acre mark this year, it’s equally important to note that the 46 projects completed in 2007 are spread across the state, and represent all the conservation goals we work toward,” said Paul Doscher, vice president of land conservation. “Working forests, of course—the backbone of the forest products industry—as well as lands protecting drinking water resources, critical wildlife habitat, fast-disappearing farmland and land identified by communities as an important local resource.”
Working forests are those that are managed for harvesting timber products, including sawlogs, firewood, and biomass (wood chips used as a source of renewable energy). Since its inception in 1901, the Forest Society has promoted the ‘wise use’ of New Hampshire’s forests, while advocating the complete reservation of places of special scenic beauty. Approximately 25 percent of the Forest Society’s forest reservations are set aside as ‘Eco-reserves,’ with the balance managed sustainably for a variety of uses, including forestry, recreation, wildlife habitat and water resource protection.
Among the high-profile projects completed by the Forest Society in 2007 were two large blocks of working forest. In May, the Forest Society teamed with Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust, the Towns of Newbury and Goshen, and hundreds of donors to protect 1,100 acres on Mount Sunapee’s eastern slope. The Pillsbury-Sunapee Ridge Forest Project required a quick fund-raising effort to raise the $400,000 needed to purchase conservation easements on two parcels—845 acres in Newbury and 250 acres in Goshen. Since the Newbury parcel of land had been slated for potential development, the purchase preserved the pristine views of the ridgeline and lower slopes seen from Route 103 at Sunapee’s southern gateway.
In November, the Forest Society completed the protection of the 2,028-acre Mulligan Forest in Nottingham. The project was made possible by combination of funding sources, including a town bond, a grant from the state Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), NH Fish & Game Department’s Landowner Incentive Program, private donors, and a below-market sale price from the landowners, the Fernald family. Before its protection, Mulligan Forest was the largest unfragmented block of unprotected forestland left in the coastal watershed.
In Manchester, the Forest Society worked with Manchester Water Works to place a conservation easement on a 460-acre parcel featuring about four miles of frontage of Lake Massabesic in Auburn. This parcel represented part of the 8,000 acres owned by MWW that protect public water supply. In Hebron, the Forest Society work with the Town to permanently protect the Hebron Town Forest—450 acres that abut existing conserved lands and include frontage on Spectacle Pond and the Cockermouth River.
Many of the acres protected in 2007 added to parcels previously conserved, forming important preserved land linkages. The Forest Society also worked with Jonathan Dawson to permanently protect 275 acres of his own property that abuts New Hampshire Audubon’s Deering Wildlife Sanctuary and is a key addition to existing conserved lands slated to form a block of over 5,000 contiguous acres from Contoocook River in the north to Vincent State Forest in the south.
“At the heart of this work,” says Forest Society President Jane Difley, “is the fact that we all care deeply about New Hampshire. Our economy, our health, and the quality of our future depend on our forests.”
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (www.forestsociety.org) is the state’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. In order to preserve the quality of life New Hampshire residents know today, the goal of the Forest Society, in partnership with other conservation organizations, private landowners, and government, is to conserve an additional one million acres of the state’s most significant natural lands for trails, parks, farms and forests by 2026.