Forest Society Purchases 284 Acres Along The Salmon Falls River
Forest Society Purchases 284 Acres Along The Salmon Falls River
Newest Forest Reservation in Milton Mills Helps Protect Public Drinking Water, River Habitat and Recreation
CONCORD, NH, July 22, 2008 — With support from private donations, multiple federal, state and local government sources, and a bargain sale by landowner Howard Jappe, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests acquired 284 acres adjacent the Salmon Falls River in Milton Mills. The Forest Society will manage the land as one of its 160 permanently conserved forest reservations.
“When I originally bought the land, I bought it to keep it undeveloped,” said Jappe. “I’m tickled pink that the Forest Society has done this. My one condition was that all the land had to be conserved. None of the property was to be broken up.”
Jappe, in his 80s, lives in Massachusetts but visits Milton Mills frequently. More than 40 years ago, he began to assemble a mosaic of adjacent, undeveloped land parcels along the Salmon Falls River north of Milton Mills. During that time, Jappe improved the woods road, managed the forest, and provided his three sons with a place to explore, hunt and fish.
“Protecting drinking water supplies, wildlife habitat and public recreation opportunities are conservation priorities for the Forest Society,” said President/Forester Jane Difley. We’re pleased that we were able to work with Mr. Jappe and a coalition of partners and funders to see the Salmon Falls project to completion.”
The property includes a mile and a half of frontage along the Salmon Falls River. The land has been traditionally open to public pedestrian access and will remain so. The woods road leads to viewpoints along the shore, where anglers fish and birdwatchers observe the numerous waterfowl. The 284 acres also include a productive 11-acre hayfield with fertile agricultural soils located on a ridge overlooking the Salmon Falls flood plain and the White Mountains to the north.
Protecting landscapes with relatively undisturbed freshwater wetlands helps maintain biodiversity and ecological functions in New Hampshire and across the Northeast. The Salmon Falls Headwaters Forest is also part of an unusual mile-wide floodplain “bowl” encompassing both sides of the Salmon Falls River. The southern end occupies the narrow 500-foot wide outlet of the bowl. This configuration, and the historic “Compromise” dam just downstream, have produced extensive wetlands that host a variety of wildlife, including many species of conservation concern.
The wetlands also act as a floodwater storage system, absorbing sediment from faster moving water entering the bowl. The combination of water treatment and storage benefits the more populated communities downstream including Milton, Rochester, Dover and Portsmouth. From Milton, the river flows southerly to its confluence with the Cochecho River near Dover. At this point the combined rivers are renamed the Piscataqua, which influences the water quality of the Great Bay estuary and then drains into the Gulf of Maine at Portsmouth.
The river influences the drinking water quality of several thousand downstream residents, including those who live in the cities of Somersworth, Portsmouth and the Town of Milton. The Somersworth Water Works serves a population of 12,000 residents by extracting and treating water from the Salmon Falls River. This project also protects the Milton Water District well, which serves 800 residents.
The 284-acre Jappe parcel is part of the larger Salmon Falls Headwaters conservation project coordinated by the Forest Society. Even with the generous bargain sale granted by Jappe, this project would not have been possible without additional support.
The Forest Society applied for and received a grant of $325,000 from New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). “The LCHIP selection process is very competitive,” said LCHIP Executive Director Deborah Turcott. “LCHIP chose to fund the Salmon Falls Headwaters project because of the property’s long history of public access and many outstanding natural resources.”
“It’s fair to say that this project would not have been possible without the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program,” said Jane Difley. “We were able to leverage the LCHIP grant into additional donations and grants from a variety of sources.”
The project also received a $157,122 grant from the NH Fish and Game's Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service program created to benefit species at risk as identified in the state’s Wildlife Action Plan. “The Jappe property has several important wildlife habitats, especially along the river and adjacent wetlands,” said NH Fish and Game Land Agent Richard Cook. “This was a complex project for all involved, but we’re pleased to see the happy ending.” NH Fish and Game will hold a conservation easement on the property.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) small grants program contributed $75,000 to the project, and the Town of Milton contributed $25,000 from the community’s conservation fund.
“Not only are we preserving the public’s right to use the land recreationally, for people to hike and observe the wildlife and the beauty of it, but by protecting the headwaters of the Salmon Falls River, we’re also protecting water quality downstream,” said Milton Select Board Chairman Tom Gray. “To participate in a project of this magnitude – it’s awesome.”
The Forest Society also worked closely with the local land conservation organization Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and several private landowners who are donating easements of significant acreage, importance and relevance. The Great Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited also made a cash donation toward the project.
Jappe’s land is located less than two miles away from more than 1,500 acres of land owned by the Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust.
The Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust agreed to donate a conservation easement on 350 acres along Jones Brook. A tributary of the Branch River, Jones Brook flows into the Salmon Falls River. This parcel buffers nearly 1.5 miles of shoreline and includes peatland, marsh, riverine, and forest habitats.
“I have enjoyed walking and cross-country skiing on Mr. Jappe’s woodland trail along the Salmon Falls River since I moved here in 1991,” said Cynthia Wyatt, Director of the Siemon Trust. “Our farm's conservation lands are only a few miles away, and I envision a greenway connecting our properties.”
Jappe neighbor, Milton Selectman, and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways Board Member Charles Karcher will donate an easement on a nearby 80-acre parcel, while the Orlando family has generously chosen to donate an easement on their seven-acre parcel adjoining the Jappe property.
The whole conservation package, involving several conservation organizations and private landowners, comprises 787 acres and is valued at $1.3 million.
The Forest Society will acknowledge the completion of the project and the partners who made it possible at a public event on the property on Thursday, Sept. 4 at 3 p.m.
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests 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. For more information, visit www.forestsociety.org.