ASHUELOT RIVER HEADWATERS SUCCESSFULLY PROTECTED
Forest Society Campaign to Protect 1,750 Acres Completed Thanks to Nearly 600 Donations
Matching Projects Can Protect Up to 1,250 Abutting Acres
Concord, N.H., Feb. 4, 2010—Thanks to hundreds of donations large and small, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests successfully conserved 1,750 acres that include the summit of Silver Mountain, a popular hiking and blueberry-picking destination with spectacular views, as well as two miles of shoreline around Long Pond and Sand Pond in Lempster. The Ashuelot River Headwaters project also includes more than 11,000 feet of frontage along the Ashuelot River, which supplies drinking water downstream.
The Forest Society will own and sustainably manage the land for multiple uses, including forestry, wildlife habitat, water quality and recreation. The Forest Society owns more than 165 forest reservations statewide, including popular destinations such as Mount Monadnock, The Rocks in Bethlehem, the Merrimack River Outdoor Education and Recreation Area in Concord and Creek Farm in Portsmouth.
“Like the river itself, the Ashuelot River Headwaters project has taken a long and winding path in arriving at a successful conservation outcome,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “I think we’ve achieved the goal because of so many people recognized the outstanding conservation features of this land—it’s a scenic place, emblematic of New Hampshire, that provides water and recreation for people, valued habitat for wildlife and renewable wood products for industry.”
“What's remarkable about this campaign is the breadth of support we've seen, from national and local foundations to hundreds of individuals for whom conserving this land is important," Difley said. Some 500 individuals gave donations ranging from $10 to $500 for a total of $45,000. A local group even held a bake sale to support the project, raising several hundred dollars. The local Sand Pond and Long Pond Associations both contributed. The New Hampshire Snowmobile Association donated and supported the project to permanently protect a key snowmobile trail that runs through a portion of the property. A local youth camp, Kroka Expeditions, donated as well.
The Forest Society acquired the property from the Wright Family Trust, which had decided several years ago to divest of the land. A Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) grant of $500,000, and a $10,000 grant from the New Hampshire Electric Coop Foundation, jumpstarted the Ashuelot River Headwaters project early on. Jane’s Trust, a regional trust which makes grants in Massachusetts, northern New England and Florida, granted $300,000 to the project.
"Early local support for the project made a big difference in our ability to successfully secure the broader support necessary to complete a conservation project of this scope," said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, vice president for development for the Forest Society.
Another $250,000 came from Saving New England's Wildlife, a multi-million dollar initiative of the Doris Duke Foundation and the Open Space Institute that funds the protection of areas identified as high-priority wildlife habitat by Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts in their State Wildlife Action Plans.
The Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), administered by the NH Fish & Game Department, contributed $220,000 to the project. The Ashuelot River is known to support 57 documented occurrences of rare species and exemplary natural communities, including rare plants, seven different species of rare animals, and eleven different types of rare or exemplary natural communities and ecosystems. Virtually all of the land targeted for protection was identified by the NH Wildlife Action Plan as the “best of the best” habitat in the State of New Hampshire.
The Putnam Foundation granted the Forest Society $100,000 in support of the Ashuelot project. Based in Keene, the Putnam Foundation supports a number of causes, including programs that support ecological maintenance and conservation, particularly in the Monadnock Region. In addition, the Badger Fund—an advised fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation—granted the Forest Society $50,000 toward the project.
The Ashuelot River Headwaters is a high priority for multiple state-of-the-art natural resource conservation plans, including the bi-state Quabbin-to-Cardigan Conservation Plan and the regional Ashuelot River Land Conservation Plan.
In addition to the 1,750 acres now conserved and owned by the Forest Society, the project has led to generous abutting landowners pledging to donate land or conservation easements on up to an additional 1,250 acres.
“This additional conservation will bring us even closer to the goal of connecting the protected lands of Pillsbury State Park and Mount Sunapee with the 12,000-acre Andorra Forest,” said Difley. “As is often the case with land conservation, this project has leveraged additional important protection of the natural resources that support our quality of life in New Hampshire.”
Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is New Hampshire’s oldest and largest non-profit land conservation organization. Supported by 9,000 families and businesses, the Forest Society’s mission is to perpetuate the state’s forests by promoting land conservation and sustainable forestry. For more information, visit www.forestsociety.org.