First Pond of Safety Purchase Completed (NH)
RANDOLPH, New Hampshire, 12/4/01: After more than two years of hard work by a coalition of Randolph residents, officials, and nonprofit organizations, the Town of Randolph created a new Community Forest today when it purchased 10,198 acres from the Trust for Public Land (TPL). At the same time, the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development purchased a conservation easement over the land, which will permanently prohibit development and stipulate sustainable forestry practices. The majority of the property-some 8,983 acres-is in Randolph, and the remainder of the land lies in neighboring Jefferson.
The property, formerly owned by the Hancock Timber Resource Group and Gorham Land Company, was purchased in phases over the past year by TPL, in order to keep it off the market while project supporters sought private, state, and federal funding. "Today's purchase completes the first phase of a larger land protection project," explained TPL field office director David Houghton. "TPL still owns approximately 3,200 adjacent acres in Randolph that will be added to the White Mountain National Forest over the next several months."
Thanks to the leadership of New Hampshire's congressional delegation, especially Senator Judd Gregg and Representative Charles Bass, just over $2 million was allocated from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program to fund the State's purchase of the conservation easement.
Funding for the town's purchase included a $250,000 grant from the State of New Hampshire's Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and more than $1.4 million in contributions from nearly 200 private supporters. Major grants for the project were awarded by the Open Space Conservancy's Northern Forest Protection Fund, Merck Family Fund, Randolph Foundation, Davis Conservation Foundation, Moriah Fund, Anna B. Stearns Fund, and the Stanton and Elisabeth Davis Fund of the Northern New Hampshire Foundation.
Senator Gregg stated, "The preservation of the wilderness land around the Pond of Safety will have ecological significance to the North Country. By connecting the Northern Presidential Mountains to the Kilkenny Range, New Hampshire's invaluable wilderness will be protected, allowing for recreational use and wild feeding and breeding habitats for many wildlife species."
"I have been pleased to work with Senator Gregg, state conservation groups, and local officials to obtain federal funding to secure these key holdings near the scenic Pond of Safety," said Representative Bass. "This is a worthwhile investment that will help preserve this New Hampshire treasure and protect it from development."
"We worked to create the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program to help preserve the places that make New Hampshire special. This project is a terrific example of the long-term benefits that LCHIP will have for the quality of life and people of New Hampshire," Gov. Jeanne Shaheen said. "I am proud we could work with the local communities, the federal government, and the Trust for Public Land to ensure that future generations will enjoy the scenic beauty of the Pond of Safety."
"I am pleased that two years of work on the part of numerous parties has resulted in the creation of a new community forest in Randolph," said NH Speaker of the House Gene Chandler. "This appears to be a good opportunity to not only preserve an area dedicated to conservation and sustainable forestry practices, but one that will ensure the future integrity of the Pond of Safety."
"The Pond of Safety project is an excellent example of how the Forest Legacy Program and the state can work directly with communities to protect recreational, ecological and timber values that are so important to us all. This project also shows the great things that initiative from folks in a com-munity can accomplish," said Philip Bryce, Director of Forests & Lands for the State of NH.
"The Town of Randolph has been working on the Pond of Safety project since 1996, and we are delighted that it's now coming to fruition," said David Wilcox, Randolph Town Moderator. "We have a tradition of supporting forestland conservation and public access, and this property has been our top priority for many years, because of its popularity for recreation, importance in providing local forest products-based jobs, and its location between the two units of the National Forest. The Town has had a tremendous amount of help from officials, private supporters, and organizations, including the Trust for Public Land, and we are grateful for their help in making this project possible."
Named for a small pond nestled high in the Ammonoosuc River watershed, the Pond of Safety property encompasses nearly 13,500 acres of hardwood forest in Randolph and Jefferson. Strategically located between the Presidential and Kilkenny Units of the White Mountain National Forest, the land connects more than 800,000 acres of conserved forestland. In addition to affording opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, fishing, and snowmobiling, the land provides important feeding and breeding habitat for black bear, moose, neotropical songbirds, and other wildlife.
Partners in the Pond of Safety project include the Town of Randolph, Randolph Foundation, State of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Congressional delegation, U.S. Forest Service, the Trust for Public Land, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Randolph Mountain Club, and Appalachian Mountain Club.
The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to conserving land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.4 million acres nationwide, including nearly 20,000 acres in New Hampshire. The Wall Street Journal's Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation's most efficient large conservation charity for the second year in a row, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, visit www.tpl.org