Campaign Launched to Conserve Trout Pond (NH)
Freedom, New Hampshire, 7/26/04: A partnership of conservation groups has launched a campaign to permanently conserve the 2,600-acre Trout Pond property, located in Freedom and Madison, NH. The area, a popular fishing, hunting and recreation spot, sits atop one of the most productive-and most threatened-drinking water aquifers in the state.
The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, holds an option to acquire the property, which expires early next year. The partnership — comprised of TPL, the Friends of Trout Pond, and the Green Mountain Conservation Group — has been working together for over three years to bring the project to fruition. The groups are seeking to raise $850,000, through both private and municipal sources, towards the total cost of $2.3 million to purchase the property for permanent conservation.
To date, the New Hampshire Land & Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) has made a grant to the partnership for $250,000. A request has also been made to the USDA Forest Legacy Program for an additional $1.2 million with the strong support of the New Hampshire Congressional delegation. This Forest Legacy request is one of the state’s top priorities this year and is now pending in Congress.
Senator Judd Gregg, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees Forest Legacy Program funding stated, “I commend The Friends of Trout Pond, the Green Mountain Conservation Group, and the Trust for Public Land for joining forces to protect this 2,600 acre tract of forestland in Freedom and Madison, presently threatened by high-density residential development. The conservation of the Trout Pond property, which includes a 21 acre pristine pond, will provide a variety of public benefits such as hiking, fishing, hunting and wildlife observation, and will form a 5,000 acre contiguous corridor of open space in the Ossipee Watershed. The Trout Pond project illustrates another fine example of our state’s serious commitment to protecting our natural resources and I am working to secure federal Forest Legacy Program resources for this project in the ongoing Fiscal Year 2005 appropriations process.”
“Trout Pond and its surrounding acreage contain some of our state’s more significant natural resources. Protecting this important ecological, recreational, and economic asset will ensure its ability to thrive and be enjoyed by current and future generations,” said Senator John Sununu (R-NH).
“The Trout Pond property is one of the Granite State’s many natural treasures, serving as a haven for hikers, skiers, horseback riders, snowmobilers and all nature lovers,” said First District Congressman Jeb Bradley. “Having recently toured the property, I saw firsthand how beautiful and remote this pond is, and it is imperative that we work together to preserve it.”
“Trout Pond is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conserve an incredible area for public enjoyment,” said Rodger Krussman, TPL’s Project Manager. “It has been amazing to see the New Hampshire Congressional delegation and the community come together thus far to create the opportunity to provide a legacy to future generations. The partners now have less then a year to identify the remaining $850,000 needed to purchase the land, and have begun a campaign to raise the money to complete the project. We’ll be counting on private donations from people who care about this special place to make the whole plan become reality.”
In March, the Town of Freedom unanimously voted to support the creation of a Town Forest. If adequate funding can be raised, the Town will eventually own the parcel with public access guaranteed. The region’s popularity for residential and second-home development is growing, since many Freedom residents are choosing to commute to Conway, Concord, Portsmouth, or Portland, Maine for work. The surrounding land has already been subdivided for development. Given the escalating development pressure, there is strong local support for protecting this land. Without protection, added development in the area could soon take place, jeopardizing the natural scenery, recreational opportunities, public access, and drinking water quality.
Katie Gove, the Freedom Conservation Chair, said that “this is a unique opportunity to create a sustainable working town forest that will preserve the rural landscape of our town , protect our watershed and provide open space for public enjoyment and education for years to come. Our goal is to continue with the strong community grassroots effort through this private donation campaign so that the town may purchase this land for pennies on the dollar.”
The project plan calls for the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development to hold a Forest Legacy conservation easement over the property. A Town Forest Committee would oversee stewardship of the tract’s natural resources for multiple uses, including recreation, wildlife habitat, watershed protection, and timber production.
The Trout Pond property, currently the largest privately owned parcel in the Town of Freedom, is linked to six other parcels of conserved land, including The Nature Conservancy’s West Branch Pine Barrens Preserve, the Madison Town Forest, the Everett Parker conservation easement land, and the McNair conservation easement land. Permanent protection of the property would help form a 5,362-acre block of conserved land in the Ossipee Region.
Under Town ownership, the property’s forested cover will help to permanently protect the purity of drinking water for the surrounding area. The rapidly growing Ossipee watershed already includes a number of commercial and public drinking water wells in close proximity to the Trout Pond tract.
Emilie Riss of the Friends of Trout Pond said “The decisions whether to develop or conserve land are difficult, but our legacy to our grandchildren and their grandchildren must include protected watersheds and ecosystems, with certain parcels of land forever conserved in their pristine and natural state. Our Capital Campaign for Trout Pond, now getting under way, represents a once in a lifetime investment opportunity to provide that legacy. This is the time for each of us to step forward and provide the funding needed to complete the project.”
Added Blair Folts, GMCG Executive Director, “not only is the Green Mountain Conservation Group enthusiastic to see a Freedom Town Forest established and sustainably managed, but we are also excited that this land will be protected for future drinking water. The Trout Pond property is located over primary and secondary recharge areas of New Hampshire’s largest stratified drift aquifer. This is perfect land to preserve for open space, forestry, passive recreation and drinking water,”
LCHIP Executive Director, Rachel Rouillard said, “The Trout Pond Project was selected by the LCHIP Board for funding in a very competitive grant round because of its potential as a working forest, for its important ecological values and for its connectivity to other protected lands.”
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization conserving land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 1.6 million acres of land in 45 states, including more than 60,000 acres in New Hampshire. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information, contact or visit www.tpl.org/newhampshire. To make a donation to the Trout Pond project, contact Rodger Krussman at 802-223-1373.