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PRESS ADVISORY
CONTACT:

Jim Oehler, NHFG:  603-271-0453
Jane Vachon 603-271-3211         
November 1, 2011

Media Invited to Tour Successful Farm Bill Conservation Projects in NH Nov. 7, 2011

CONCORD, N.H. – Members of the media are invited to join a field tour highlighting projects that have helped maintain New Hampshire's rural character, local agriculture, clean drinking water and wildlife habitats through conservation programs authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, which is up for reauthorization in 2012. The tour will be Monday, November 7, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm, and media are welcome for all or part of the tour.

The N.H. Fish and Game Department, the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food and several conservation partners are hosting the tour to showcase just a few of the many Farm Bill success stories and help public officials learn more about the value of Farm Bill programs to New Hampshire.

"Farm Bill Conservation Programs are key to helping preserve our state’s natural resources, rural heritage and economic vitality," said Glenn Normandeau, Fish and Game Executive Director. "These programs have protected soil and water quality, enhanced wildlife habitat and sustained agriculture. They have resulted in preservation of important local sources of food and fiber, forested landscapes that draw visitors to our state, clean water for drinking and recreation, and habitats that help keep wildlife off endangered species lists and give the public opportunities to experience our wild heritage."

"Farm Bill conservation programs have helped many New Hampshire farms invest in soil and water conservation practices that protect natural resources and help keep farm businesses viable now and in the future," said Agriculture Commissioner Lorraine Merrill. “The Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) is one program that has been an essential partner for farm owners working with their communities to permanently protect land with agricultural conservation easements.”

FARM BILL FIELD TOUR ITINERARY: Monday, November 7, 2011

9:45 a.m. – Tour Start: Meet at Tuckaway Farm, 59 Randall Road, Lee, NH, to carpool.

10:15 – 10:45 a.m. – The Forest Society’s Hills Tract, Durham, NH: NRCS Supports Local Business While Creating Habitat for Rare Species (Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program)

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently provided funding to ArboPro, a small business in Rochester, to control non-native, invasive plants on land owned by The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) in Durham to improve habitat for state-endangered New England cottontails. The SPNHF property adjoins property owned by N.H. Fish and Game that is also being managed for cottontails. This provides a perfect opportunity to expand available habitat for a species that is a high-priority candidate for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. State wildlife agencies throughout New England and New York, NRCS, and several non-government organizations are teaming up with private and public landowners across the region to help keep the cottontail off that list, and deter regulatory burdens often associated with federal listing. With the invasive plants controlled, SPNHF will hire a local logging company to remove the low-quality pasture pine this winter, and work with volunteers to plant the area with native dogwoods and viburnums next spring. The Farm Bill's Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) has brought nearly $12 million into New Hampshire over the last five years, most of which has gone to small businesses like ArboPro to help landowners improve soils, water quality and wildlife habitat on their lands for multiple public benefits.

10:50 – 11:45 a.m. -- Emery Farm: 11 Generations of Family Farming Protected
(Farm and Ranchland Protection Program)

Thousands of commuters drive by Emery Farm every day on Route 4 in Durham. The
pick-your-own berry and fruit operation is a favorite destination for thousands each year, providing locally grown produce in season. The adjoining land includes cultivated farm lands, a working forest, hayfield, pasture, a man-made pond and wetlands. Thanks to an owner with an appreciation of history and sense of community, plus funding provided by the Farm Bill's Farm and Ranchland Protection Program and the Town of Durham, the Emery Farm can continue to provide a local source of food and wood in perpetuity. The farm was protected in 2006 through two conservation easements. The Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership, The Nature Conservancy and The Society for the Protection of NH Forests helped administer this important conservation effort, which had been consistently identified in the town's Master Plan as a critical conservation priority.

12:00 – 12:30 p.m. – Lunch: Provided by the NH Association of Conservation Districts and hosted by Tuckaway Farm, the meal will feature in-season produce and other local farm products.  Media are welcome at the lunch, however, an RSVP is required; contact Jim Oehler at 603-271-0453 or james.oehler@wildlife.nh.gov.

12:30 – 1:30 p.m. -- Dorn Cox, Tuckaway Farm, Lee, NH: Farmer Keeps Energy Production on the Farm  (Environmental Quality Incentives Program)

Dorn Cox, winner of the 2007 N.H. Farm Bureau's Young Farmers Achievement Award,
has placed his emphasis on food and fuel systems that return carbon to the soil while
improving output on his family’s working 250-acre, four-generation farm in Lee. He has designed and constructed systems for New England-scale grain and oilseed processing and biofuel production, worked to select effective cover crops, grains and oilseed for food and energy production, and has developed no-till and low-till equipment to reduce energy use and increase soil health in New Hampshire conditions. The goal of his operation is to reduce production input costs while increasing marketable agricultural products, as well as other environmental services such as water filtration, wildlife habitat and recreation. Cox is well on his way to reaching this goal, and has been helped by Environmental Quality Incentives Program cost-sharing contracts for high tunnels, biodiesel fuel processing, and grazing, forest and nutrient management plans.

1:35 – 2:00 p.m. -- Old Mill Properties, Lee, NH: Important Drinking Water Aquifer and Rare Species Habitat Protected Along the Oyster River (Wetlands Reserve Program)

A partnership between NRCS, the Town of Lee and adjacent private landowners resulted in the preservation of an important drinking water aquifer and wildlife habitat. One hundred fifty-six acres were protected along the Oyster River through Wetlands Reserve Program easements. The aquifer on which these properties sit provides 25% of the drinking water for the towns of Lee and Durham and the University of New Hampshire. The project also included wetland restoration within an old gravel pit complex, an area that now supports yellowlegs, waterfowl and a variety of other migratory species. The property has been highlighted several times on Audubon’s eBird website, with sightings such as American kestrel, sora and towhee. It also provides habitat for state-threatened wood turtles, and is a historic location for the state-endangered New England cottontail. Besides generating a shallow water wetland, rare Atlantic white cedar was restored at the site to replace a swamp that had been buried during sand and gravel excavations. During the slowest part of the economy, this project provided over $1 million to private-sector small businesses and has improved water quality in the Oyster River by stopping erosion and protecting the aquifer recharge area from development.

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