Agreement Would Save 171,000 NH Acres
Pittsburg, NH, 8/4/01 – International Paper and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today the next step in an agreement that will make it possible to protect approximately 171,500 acres in Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown known as the Connecticut Lakes property.
TPL, a national nonprofit organization, is proposing to purchase the property from International Paper by December 31, 2001, with the purchase price to be determined by an independent appraisal this fall. TPL plans to hold the property off the market while the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force works to develop a vision for the land’s future and a plan to carry out that vision. The Task Force, which has been convened jointly by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg and Governor Jeanne Shaheen, is comprised of local residents, North Country leaders, state and federal officials, and nonprofit organizations. At the same time, TPL will work with the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, other nonprofit organizations, and state and federal officials to raise funds for the purchase.
“These forests have long provided an economic basis for this region,” said Dave Lieser, International Paper’s Region Manager, Northern Operations. “We are pleased to have reached a sales agreement with the Trust for Public Land that will achieve the long-term conservation interests of this property and the community while protecting and maintaining the economic attributes of a working forest and local recreational traditions.”
“TPL is delighted to announce our agreement with International Paper,” said TPL field office director David Houghton. “We are committed to helping accomplish the vision that the Task Force’s Steering Committee is developing for the land. Through this approach, we hope to help stabilize land ownership in the region, work with local officials and community members to foster economic growth through timber-based jobs and tourism, protect environmentally sensitive portions of the property and endangered species habitat, and provide for public access and enjoyment.” TPL has been negotiating to purchase the Connecticut Lakes property since last July.
The largest contiguous block of New Hampshire land in private ownership, this property is the backbone of the local economy, providing both timber-related jobs and a popular tourist destination for snowmobiling, fishing, canoeing, hunting, hiking, and bird watching. It also surrounds three of the Connecticut River’s four headwater lakes, includes nearly the entire watershed of Perry Stream and Indian Stream, and provides habitat for at least 20 rare wildlife species, including loons, osprey, bald eagles, and pine martens.
The effort to conserve the Connecticut Lakes property has been a collaborative effort involving, not only International Paper, the Trust for Public Land, and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, but also Governor Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senators Judd Gregg and Bob Smith, U.S. Representatives Charlie Bass and John Sununu, New Hampshire Senate President Arthur P. Klemm, New Hampshire House Speaker Gene G. Chandler, and other state and local elected officials and citizens.
“This land is critical to the economy of the North Country and to the State of New Hampshire. I want to make sure that we preserve public access and all of the land’s traditional uses, including timber harvesting, hunting and fishing, snowmobiling and other recreation, as well as protecting environmentally sensitive areas,” Gov. Shaheen said. “I am pleased that we were able to work with International Paper and the Trust for Public Land to help preserve this important forestland. The Trust for Public Land’s willingness to buy and hold this land will give us the time we need to develop a comprehensive long-term plan to protect the property’s many values and to ensure their continued contribution to New Hampshire’s economy and quality of life for years to come.”
“Conservation of this land for sustainable timber harvesting, recreation, and wildlife is needed more now than ever given the challenges faced by the forest products industry in the North Country,” said Senator Judd Gregg. “By investing in conservation, we can guarantee that the property will always help fuel the economy, provide wildlife habitat, and be available for the residents of the North Country and New Hampshire.” Senator Gregg has already secured an initial $4 million appropriation in the Senate Fiscal Year 2002 Interior Appropriations bill to help the State of New Hampshire acquire a conservation easement on the land.
“With the protection of the IP lands, there is an opportunity to both preserve traditional uses of the land and encourage economic growth in the North Country,” said Representative Charlie Bass. “My goals in supporting this project are to promote sustainable forestry and tourism, work with the community to enhance opportunities for local businesses to succeed, and guarantee that the property continues to be available for recreation to the people of New Hampshire.”
“The Connecticut Lakes property makes up 4 percent of New Hampshire’s landmass, and represents $57 million in economic impact to the state,” said Senate President Klemm. “The Trust for Public Land’s involvement in holding the property will give state and local officials time to determine how best to ensure that the land continues to provide economic benefits for citizens of the North Country and for the entire state.”
“With today’s announcement from the Trust for Public Land, I am encouraged that the International Paper property will remain intact for future generations to enjoy and utilize. This land is an integral part to what makes New Hampshire so special,” said New Hampshire House Speaker Gene G. Chandler. “Not only is it critical to the local economy and the timber business, but it also vital to the state’s economy. To give the size of the property some perspective, we are talking about land that pretty much entails the entire northern section of New Hampshire. Based on the wide array of people working to ensure the integrity of the land, its significance cannot be overstated. This is an area that people appreciate and enjoy through accepted uses such as snowmobiling, hunting, fishing, trapping, hiking, through camp leases, moose watching or a wide array of other outdoor activities. I will continue to do whatever I can to make sure the property remains an area that people can enjoy and appreciate in a manner which befits the history of this land in the North Country.”
International Paper (http://www.internationalpaper.com) is the world’s largest paper and forest products company. Businesses include paper, packaging, and forest products. As one of the largest private forest landowners in the world, the company manages its forests under the principles of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFIsm ) program, a system that ensures the perpetual planting, growing and harvesting of trees while protecting wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality. Headquartered in the United States, at Stamford, Conn., International Paper has operations in nearly 50 countries and exports its products to more than 130 nations.
The Trust for Public Land is a national conservation organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide, including land around New Hampshire’s Lake Umbagog, Lake Tarleton, Pond of Safety, and Bretton Woods. The Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money Magazine recently named TPL the nation’s most efficient large conservation charity, based on the percentage of funds dedicated to programs. For more information, visit www.tpl.org
Note to reporters: The fourth meeting of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force Steering Committee will be held this afternoon in Concord. Gov. Shaheen will open the meeting, which will focus on reaching consensus on the preferred protection alternatives for the 171,500 acres of International Paper property being sold. The Committee will also discuss options for funding the preferred alternative. The Task Force’s Technical Committee will also present their final findings to the Steering Committee at this meeting.
Members of the Steering Committee will meet in executive session from 3-3:30 p.m. to discuss confidential information. The media and members of the general public are invited to the remainder of the meeting from 3:30-5:00 p.m. At 6:00 p.m, the Steering Committee will hold a public hearing to solicit comments from the public about the preferred IP lands protection alternative.
The Steering Committee meeting will be held in the Student Conference Room on the second floor of the Sweeney Tech Center of the NH Technical Institute on Institute Drive in Concord. The public hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium of the Sweeney Tech Center.
Note to editors: To request a digital map of the property via email, contact Erin Rowland at (617) 367-6200 x321 or firstname.lastname@example.org