TransCanada, Forest Society Finalize Conservation Easement on Land in North Country
The Forest Society and TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc., finalized a conservation easement on some 2,300 acres including 31 miles of frontage on the First and Second Connecticut Lakes in Pittsburg as well as seven and a half miles of frontage on the upper Connecticut River in Pittsburg and Clarksville. The land will continue to be owned by TransCanada Hydro and the Forest Society will hold and monitor the conservation easement.
A previous owner of TransCanada’s hydroelectric assets, New England Power Company, agreed to place a conservation easement on its lands at the Connecticut Lakes as part of a settlement agreement negotiated during the re-licensing of 3 of its downstream hydroelectric dams. The 1997 settlement agreement, a collaborative effort among the owners of the dams and many public agencies, conservation groups, and others, succeeded in facilitating a timely federal re-licensing of the largest hydroelectric stations in the region at Fifteen Mile Falls. TransCanada Hydro acquired the hydropower assets in 2005.
“This conservation easement protects extraordinary resources found nowhere else in the state,” said Forest Society Senior Director of Land Conservation Tom Howe. “Second Lake is the largest entirely undeveloped lake in the North Country, and First Lake hosts very limited development. The views across the lake to the protected Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Forest are magnificent.”
“The Connecticut Lakes are the headwaters of the Connecticut River and in a literal and symbolic sense constitute the ‘headwater’ of our business,” said Cleve Kapala of TransCanada. “We are pleased to have been able to work with the Forest Society to complete the conservation of this land. We look forward to continuing to welcome recreational users of the property and to being a good neighbor and steward in Pittsburg and Clarksville.”
The TransCanada Hydro land abuts the 146,000-acre Connecticut Lakes Headwater Forest, which was protected in 2003 through a state-held conservation easement. TransCanada Hydro makes its land accessible for public recreation, including hunting and fishing, and provides free public boat ramp access to both First and Second Connecticut Lakes. The lakes are premier cold-water fisheries managed by the state and the stream frontage includes the “Trophy Section” of the Connecticut River, ranked one of America’s Top 100 Trout Streams by Trout Unlimited.
Snowmobiling is extensive on the property as well. The conservation easement enables TransCanada Hydro to continue allowing those recreational uses.
Most of the property – 97 percent – is ranked as “Tier 1, best in the state” wildlife habitat by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Action Plan. These lands host exemplary ecological communities, numerous deer wintering areas, nest sites for Common Loons, a Great Blue Heron rookery, and habitat for a number of other threatened or endangered species.
The land was originally acquired early in the 20th century by the predecessors to TransCanada Hydro in order to allow dams to be built to raise the levels of the lakes and keep them stable enough to provide reliable flows of water to the downstream hydroelectric dams near Littleton.
As mandated by the settlement agreement, the easement provides that TransCanada Hydro will be able to continue its business activities related, including the ability to install turbines in either of the dams on the two lakes should it choose to do so in the future. The company also will have the right to limit public access to the dam and other facilities for public safety and security purposes.
For more information about TransCanada, visit http://www.transcanada.com/. To speak with a TransCanada representative about their role in this project, please contact Cleve Kapala at 603-225-5528 or by email at email@example.com
The Forest Society is a private, non-profit land trust and forestry organization established in 1901. It currently holds more than 750 conservation easements statewide permanently protecting more than 100,000 acres of New Hampshire’s landscapes. The Forest Society also owns 171 forest reservations constituting more than 50,000 acres in 95 New Hampshire communities.