Landowner Incentive Program

When funds are available, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department solicits proposals for Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) grants to conserve species and habitats at risk through the acquisition of conservation easements. LIP funds cannot be used to acquire fee interest in land.

Unfortunately, federal funds are not available for this program, and grants are not being awarded at this time.

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Introduction
The New Hampshire Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) is a federally funded program to protect and restore habitats on private lands to benefit plant and animal species determined to be at-risk and in need of conservation. LIP funds are provided to state fish and wildlife agencies through a national competitive grant program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (CLICK HERE for info). Eligible lands should have documented occurrences of species-at-risk and are not government-owned. Species at risk include any wildlife or plant identified by the State as in need of conservation. These include Federal and State listed plants and animals, wildlife and habitats at risk as identified in the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan (CLICK HERE) and exemplary natural communities and natural community systems tracked by the New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau (CLICK HERE).

Policy and guidelines for the N.H. Landowner Incentive Program have been developed by the LIP Advisory Committee.  This committee provides programmatic guidance and oversight to New Hampshire’s LIP program. Advisory Committee members include representatives from NHFG and NHB as well as UNH Cooperative Extension, New Hampshire Audubon, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and The Nature Conservancy.

The Wildlife Action Plan was developed by NHFG in conjunction with a variety of conservation partners and public input to identify the wildlife species and habitats in greatest need of conservation. A core team of biologists working with all available information identified 123 species and 27 habitats as priorities for conservation action (CLICK HERE to download Chapter 2 of the NH Wildlife Action Plan - Wildlife & Habitats including Threatened & Endangered* - PDF, 142 KB). Using the latest mapping technologies and the lists of species and habitats in greatest need of conservation, maps were developed to identify the location of habitat types statewide.  An analysis of habitat condition resulted in maps showing the highest ranking habitats by ecological condition.  Further analysis identified clusters of high condition habitat, areas where there are documented rare species and landscape integrity and diversity.  These are identified as conservation focus areas.

The Natural Heritage Bureau (NHB) of the Division of Forest and Lands surveys, tracks, and facilitates the protection of New Hampshire's rare plants and exemplary natural communities (types of forests, wetlands, grasslands, etc.). NHB is fundamentally a service to New Hampshire landowners and land managers. They are not a regulatory agency; instead, work with landowners and land managers to help them protect the State's natural heritage while meeting their land-use needs. Landowners can request a letter documenting any NHB records on their property by filling out a 1-page Landowner Request Form (CLICK HERE) and providing a map of the property boundaries. There is no fee for this service, and turnaround is typically 5 – 10 working days. Results will be e-mailed if an e-mail address is provided.

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Focus Areas
Focus areas for LIP grants are:

Project applications will be accepted from anywhere in the State. However, the LIP ranking criteria provides additional points for projects identified as Conservation Focus Areas - or as Highest Ranked Wildlife Habitat by Ecological Condition in NH or the biological region. For more detailed maps contact your local Regional Planning Commission or go to the UNH GRANIT Data Mapper (CLICK HERE).

Ranking Criteria
Application for LIP funding of conservation easements will be evaluated using a two-tiered ranking criteria developed by the LIP Advisory Committee (CLICK HERE to download ranking criteria* - PDF, 245 KB). The first tier assesses the ecological significance of a project based on nine questions and a maximum 100 points. The second tier will assess the current status of the project. All application should address the issues raised in the criteria.

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GRANT REQUIREMENTS:

Eligibility
Applications for conservation easement grants will be accepted from agencies, municipalities, and non-governmental organizations that have demonstrated capacity to successfully complete land protection projects and monitor conservation easements. Note that governmental organizations and municipalities can hold conservation easements acquired through LIP, even though they cannot be the owner of land conserved through LIP.

Funding Limits
LIP funds awarded to a project, generally, will not exceed 50% of the total project value that includes the cost of the conservation easement and any authorized pre-acquisition costs.  In an effort to stretch limited program dollars, LIP funding per project will be capped at $100,000. NHFG may waive this cap on a case specific basis due to project significance and availability of grant funds.

Match
The applicant will be responsible for providing and documenting the non federal match equal to or greater than the value of the awarded LIP grant. This match can be comprised of donated value, cash, or other eligible uses (see below). 

Eligible Use of Funds
Many of the costs incurred in a conservation easement project are eligible for reimbursement by the Landowner Incentive Program.  Funds may be used to cover the following costs:

  • Purchase of conservation easements on private lands
  • Boundary surveys
  • Title work
  • Baseline documentation
  • Environmental assessments
  • Management Endowment
  • Development of Conservation Management Plans

Conservation Easement Requirements
The conservation easement language must include among its purposes the conservation of species at risk and habitats in need of conservation and require a stewardship plan that outlines actions necessary to restore, conserve, and sustain these species and habitats. NHFG may require they or another qualified entity be granted an executor interest in the easement. *CLICK HERE for examples of model easement language - PDF, 46 KB

Notice of Federal Grant Agreement
Successful applicants for LIP funding must comply with the federal requirements of the Landowner Incentive Program and record a Notice of Federal Grant Agreement along with the easement. CLICK HERE for a sample of the Notice of Federal Grant Agreement* - PDF, 323 KB

Willing Sellers Only
All applications must include a signed Option Agreement, Purchase and Sale Agreement, or a letter from the land owner indicating their willingness to participate in the program.

Appraisal Standards
Easement appraisals must be completed in accordance with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (CLICK HERE) and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), and also must meet the requirements of the Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Policy Act (Public Law 91-646).  The final report will consist of a complete appraisal and a self contained appraisal report.

Easement Purchase Price Determined by Appraised Value
The NH Landowner Incentive Program will not consider proposals requesting a purchase price greater than the appraised value of the easement.

Public Access
LIP easement language must provide for public access for low impact outdoor recreation activities, unless such activity is determined to pose a risk to the species for which LIP funding is provided. Such determination will be made by NHFG with input from the LIP Advisory Committee.

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Species & Habitats At Risk
Click on the links below to access lists of species and habitats at risk:


2007 Grant Award Recipients

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is pleased to announce the preliminary award of the 2007 Landowner Incentive Program grants. Five grants of $100,000 were made to conservation organizations working to protect privately owned lands, which provide habitat for plant or animal species of the greatest conservation concern.

The 2007 awards were presented to:

  • The Green Mountain Conservation Group and The Nature Conservancy to purchase a conservation easement on 103 acres of pine barrens in Ossipee;

  • The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests towards the purchase of an easement on 343 acres along the headwaters of the Salmon Falls River in Milton;

  • The Strafford River Conservancy to purchase conservations easements on 309 acres in The Sheepboro Road corridor in Farmington surrounding the Rochester public water supply;

  • The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to assist in the protection of 1,750 acres of forestland in the headwaters of the Ashuelot River in Lempster;

  • The Lee Conservation Commission to help fund the purchase of an easement on 58 acres of the Misty Meadows property in Lee.

Throughout the next year NHFG staff will work with each of the conservation organizations and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that these lands are protected in perpetuity for wildlife.

Contact Information: For more information on the N.H. LIP program, email wildlife@wildlife.nh.gov or call 603-271-2461.

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About Us
 
NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

603-271-3421
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