CONTACT:
Eric Aldrich: (603) 224-5853, ext. 26
ealdrich@tnc.org
The Nature Conservancy, N.H. Field Office
Liza Poinier: (603) 271-3211
lpoinier@wildlife.state.nh.us
New Hampshire Fish and Game Dept.

 
The Connecticut Lakes headwaters, from Magalloway Mountain, Pittsburg.
Eric Aldrich photo © N.H. Fish and Game

The Nature Conservancy and State Complete Transaction on 25,000-Acre Natural Area to be Managed by Fish and Game

Partnership between The Nature Conservancy and New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will leave the state with a lasting legacy for recreation, wildlife and natural communities.

CONCORD, N.H. - There's a new owner of 25,000 acres in the Connecticut Lakes area of northern New Hampshire, thanks to a deal completed today between The Nature Conservancy and the state of New Hampshire.

The state -- under the auspices of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department -- now owns the 25,000 acres in Pittsburg and Clarksville and will manage it as a natural area for this and future generations. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement over the entire property, and will work closely with Fish and Game to ensure sound management that protects the property's special natural features in perpetuity.

"I am proud to participate in today's transfer of this unique property to the state," said Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who along with U.S. Senator Judd Gregg co-chaired the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force. "This 25,000-acre natural area is key to the overall protection plan we have developed for the Connecticut Lakes headwaters tract. Today's closing means another critical step has been completed in our effort to preserve the economic, environmental, and recreational attributes of this land for generations to come."

"The transfer of the 25,000-acre natural area in Pittsburg and Clarksville from The Nature Conservancy to New Hampshire Fish and Game marks a major and successful milestone for the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force and assures the region's most sensitive ecological features will be protected for the benefit of future generations," said Senator Gregg. "I commend The Nature Conservancy and all of the local, state and federal officials and nonprofit organizations who have worked so diligently over the past 18 months toward the conservation of the 171,326-acre International Paper lands' recreational, ecological and economic values for a job well done. As co-chair of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force, it is extremely gratifying to see a major component of the task force's vision for the permanent protection of this precious forest resource translated into reality."

"This project ensures a lasting legacy for the land's many values," said Daryl Burtnett, director of The Nature Conservancy's New Hampshire chapter. "The Connecticut Lakes natural area harbors a tremendous array of wetlands, streams and ponds, mountain tops, and wildlife habitat, and a rich tradition of public recreation. Because of the foresight and action of the many dedicated people involved, these values will be protected in perpetuity."

"The state's ownership and management of the natural area will center on natural ecological processes and sustaining significant wildlife habitat," says Charles Bridges, Fish and Game's habitat and diversity programs administrator. "Not only will it help protect and preserve a vital piece of wildlife habitat for New Hampshire's future, it will provide an excellent complement to the surrounding privately managed forestland, where timber production is the focus within the guidelines of a Forest Legacy Conservation Easement held by the state."

The land is part of 171,326 acres formerly owned by the International Paper Company. In March, International Paper conveyed the 171,326 acres - the largest unbroken tract of privately-owned forestland in the state - to the Trust for Public Lands, which in turn sold the 25,000-acres to The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy bought the 25,000 acres with the understanding that it would hold and manage it while the state secured funds for its own purchase. The state was able to purchase the natural area with a portion of the $10 million bond approved by the N.H. Legislature in May, $1 million from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and $700,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The remaining 146,326 acres are now owned by the Trust for Public Land, which intends to sell all but 100 acres to Lyme Timber Co., with a conservation easement to be held by the state. The other 100 acres will be transferred to the state for an addition to the Deer Mountain Campground operated by the N.H. Division of Parks and Recreation.

The Nature Conservancy sold the 25,000 acres to the state for the land's appraised value of $6.5 million. Proceeds from the sale will be used to reimburse the Conservancy for its acquisition, interest payments, road maintenance and other costs associated with purchasing and holding the land.

Under the transaction, the state has purchased the 25,000-acre natural area in three parcels, all of which will be managed by Fish and Game, while The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement. The parcels include: 1) South Bay Bog (3,959 acres); 2) Perry Stream headwaters and ponds (4,971 acres); and 3) East Inlet and Scott's Bog Brook watersheds (16,070 acres). The Fish and Game Department will manage nearly 15,000 acres of the East Inlet section as a nature preserve, in which there will be no timber harvesting and where ecological processes will follow their own natural courses to shape the landscape over time. In the South Bay Bog and Perry Stream headwaters parcels and a small portion of the East Inlet area along Route 3, Fish and Game will practice a variety of sustainable and adaptive forest management options to optimize wildlife habitats. All 25,000 acres will be open to the public for hunting, fishing, and hiking and snowmobiling on established trails. The state has established an endowment for the long term management of these lands, toward which The Nature Conservancy will contribute an initial $450,000.

The location and boundaries of the natural area were derived from the best available scientific information, with the assistance of representatives of several organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory, Appalachian Mountain Club, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension.

Among the many key players in this effort are:

  • U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg and Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, who co-chaired the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force and helped secure funding.
  • The members of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force and Technical Committee who dedicated their time, expertise and passion to this project.
  • The N.H. Legislature, which - with the leadership of House Speaker Gene Chandler and Senate President Arthur Klemm - passed a $10 million bond in May 2002, in part to help the state purchase the 25,000-acre natural area.
  • The Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, which awarded a $2 million grant for Trust for Public Land's purchase of the former International Paper lands.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which provided $1.7 million of funding through its North American Wetlands Conservation program and through a state wildlife grant.
  • The Trust for Public Land, which spearheaded the initial purchase of the former International Paper lands.
  • The Society for the Protection for New Hampshire Forests, which helped to secure funding and critical legislative support.
  • The Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Leadership Committee, chaired by Tom Deans of the N.H. Charitable Foundation, which is raising funds for a long-term stewardship endowment for the lands.
  • The many New Hampshire citizens and organizations that attended hearings and meetings during the late summer and fall of 2001, shared their knowledge and viewpoints and helped guide the project.

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As the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife, and marine resources, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department works in partnership with the public to:

  • Conserve, manage and protect these resources and their habitats;
  • Inform and educate the public about these resources;
  • Provide the public with opportunities to use and appreciate these resources.

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The Nature Conservancy is the world's leading conservation organization. For more than 50 years, the Conservancy's mission has been to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. Together with members and conservation partners the New Hampshire Chapter has protected more than 119,000 acres of critical natural lands in New Hampshire, including 32 preserves. For more information, visit www.nature.org/newhampshire.

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