Concord, N.H., Dec. 15, 2008—Once the ink is dry on the final land protection projects at the end of the year, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, dedicated to forestland conservation and the wise use of the state’s natural resources, will have protected more than 7,200 acres of land across the state in 2008.
“That we were able to protect this much land during an increasingly challenging economy is a testament to the generosity of our donors and the commitment of our members to land and forest conservation,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “People dedicated to conservation are taking the long-term view and helping us forge ahead with our mission.”
Among the 30 conservation projects that the Forest Society will complete in 23 different towns this year, the most notable focused on protecting forests along New Hampshire rivers and ponds. Included in the tally are six miles of frontage on the upper Connecticut River in Clarksville (Washburn Family Forest, 2,100 acres), the headwaters of the Smith River and Danbury Bog (March Pond easement, 900 acres) in Danbury, and a mile and a half of frontage on the Salmon Falls River (Salmon Falls Forest, 284 acres) in Milton.
Both the Salmon Falls and Washburn Family Forest projects were protected in part thanks to the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). Fortunately, these projects were completed before Governor Lynch and the Legislature’s Fiscal Committee demanded LCHIP give back $3 million (out of $6 million in the fiscal year) slated for other pending projects.
The conservation of March Pond was made possible through private donations along with a federal grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) designed to protect anadromous fish (fish that swim up rivers to spawn) habitat within the Merrimack River watershed.
“These forests act as nature’s best filters for water quality,” said Paul Doscher, vice president for land conservation at the Forest Society. “Whether it’s a source of drinking water for people, wildlife habitat, or a recreational resource for anglers, the purity of the Connecticut River is essential.”
In addition, the Forest Society will complete a conservation easement on 1,000 acres surrounding Goose Pond, a former drinking water reservoir and now popular recreation spot owned by the City of Keene. The Keene Open Space Committee chose to work with the Forest Society in particular to permanently protect the Goose Pond property in part because the Forest Society has worked with cities and towns to conserve municipally-owned land more than 40 times.
The Forest Society also added a significant forest reservation in Alton (the 431-acre Evelyn H. & Albert D. Morse Preserve), and added more than 500 acres to existing forest reservations with four separate conservation projects in Deering.
The Forest Society now owns and sustainably manages 160 forest reservations totaling more than 45,000 acres in nearly 100 towns across the state, and monitors more than 600 conservation easements on another 100,000 acres statewide.
By year’s end, the Forest Society will have completed conservation projects in Acworth, Alton, Barrington, Canaan, Clarksville, Danbury, Deering, Francestown, Greenfield, Goshen, Hampstead, Hanover, Henniker, Hill, Keene, Lee, Milford, Milton, Peterborough, Sunapee, Tamworth, Unity and Weare.
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.