Jane Vachon, N.H. Fish and Game, (603) 271-3211
Scot Williamson, Wildlife Management Institute, (603) 636-9846
Erin Rowland, The Trust for Public Land, (617) 367-6200 x321
October 10, 2003

Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Receives International Conservation Award

CONCORD, N.H. -- On behalf of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership, U.S. Senator Judd Gregg today accepted the Wildlife Management Institute's 2003 Touchstone Award. This award recognizes people, groups or agencies involved in professional natural resources management, whose ingenuity and initiative result in a program or product that notably advances sound resource management and conservation in North America. Sen. Gregg served as co-chair of the Partnership's Task Force from its inception.

The Touchstone Award, originally awarded at the annual North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference this past spring, was presented to Sen. Gregg and the Partnership in Pittsburg, N.H., at the event celebrating the permanent protection of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters property.

"The Touchstone Award honors the creativity and collaborative spirit of a remarkable group of people, the members of the Partnership, who were able to work together and make some hard decisions that will benefit the people and wildlife of New Hampshire for generations to come," observed Lee E. Perry, Director of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. "Because of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters project, this special corner of the North Country will forever remain healthy habitat for a wide variety of fish and wildlife species -- pine martens, loons and ospreys along with moose, black bear and white-tailed deer -- and allow people to continue to enjoy and benefit from them."

The Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership -- uniting conservation groups, local businesses, state and federal officials, resource professionals and citizens -- was recognized for its diligence and creativity in designing a conservation strategy for the 171,000-acre Connecticut Lakes Headwaters property in Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown, N.H. This strategy was agreeable to local citizens and interest groups, and applauded for its ecological soundness and economic viability. "The protection strategy achieved through the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership sets a new standard of excellence for collaborative conservation," said Rollin D. Sparrowe, president of the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI). WMI is a private, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization, committed to the conservation, enhancement and professional management of North America's wildlife and natural resources.

The purpose of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership, created by Senator Gregg and former New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen, was to craft conservation actions for the forestland, totaling more than three percent of New Hampshire's land base, after the land was put on the market by International Paper Corporation in July 2001. The Partnership united out of concern that traditional uses of the land would be changed by development or exclusive ownership.

"There's nothing like waking up one day to find a huge parcel of your state is up for sale and you have six months to close a deal," said Steve Weber, chief of wildlife for N.H. Fish and Game, which nominated the Partnership for the Touchstone Award. "Thanks to the leadership of Senator Gregg and former Governor Shaheen, and the courage of the Trust for Public Land, this land was protected. Their vision and hard work helped establish endowment funds for managing the land, monitoring the conservation easements and maintaining more than 400 miles of road on the property, as well as funds to acquire both conservation easements and fee title ownership."

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department last year took ownership of 25,000 acres in Pittsburg and Clarksville -- a part of the larger property -- which it manages as a Natural Area. The Nature Conservancy holds a conservation easement over the Natural Area.

Additional partners, legislation and programs helped provide or enable significant funding, including the USDA's Forest Legacy Program, The State of New Hampshire, Lyme Timber Company, The Nature Conservancy, The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's State Wildlife Grant and North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant programs. "This project is a true collaboration among many people and organizations," Weber said.

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