Freedom Community Forest Created (NH)
Freedom, New Hampshire, 6/21/2005 – It’s official – the Town of Freedom, New Hampshire now owns its very own Community Forest. Yesterday the Trust for Public Land (TPL), along with the Green Mountain Conservation Group (GMCG), the Friends of Trout Pond, the Town of Freedom and the State of New Hampshire, announced the creation of the 2,660-acre Community Forest in Freedom and Madison, New Hampshire. These groups have been working together for more then 3 years to permanently protect this area known locally as the Trout Pond property. The property, now permanently protected with a conservation agreement, will be managed for sustainable timber resources, low impact recreation, and a variety of wildlife habitat protection.
TPL Project Manager Rodger Krussman said, “The community has worked extremely hard over the past 4 years to ensure that future generations have a place to enjoy and experience the abundant wildlife, scenic beauty, variety of recreational opportunities, and economic benefits that will be the result of their efforts. We could not have achieved our goal without the support from New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation who have consistently been supportive of conservation in the state.”
As a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees funding for the USDA Forest Legacy Program (FLP), U.S. Senator Judd Gregg was instrumental in securing the $1.2 million grant for this project from the FLP.
Senator Gregg stated, “The Trout Pond property alone has tremendous environmental value, and when you recognize it serves as a bridge between previously protected areas, ensuring its health for future generations becomes even more critical. The work done by the Town of Freedom, The Trust for Public Land, and the local leaders involved in the creation of this Community Forest is commendable, and I am pleased I was able to help them achieve their goal. They recognize the importance of the Trout Pond property and the time and energy they gave to this project has paid off in today’s announcement.”
Support for this project also came from U.S. Senator John Sununu, U.S. Representatives Jeb Bradley (R-1) and Charles Bass (R-2).
Senator Sununu commented, “Trout Pond is one of the state’s natural treasures. This balanced conservation agreement allows responsible access to the property and permanently protects it for future generations. With significant involvement at the local, state and federal level, the collaborative effort to permanently protect Trout Pond provides a model for New Hampshire conservationists.”
Rep. Bradley, whose district the Trout Pond property lies in, said “I have visited Trout Pond in the past and was struck by its remoteness and beauty. I was pleased to support federal dollars to preserve this unique conservation project for future generations to be able to enjoy.”
“Once again, New Hampshire’s uniquely cooperative and inclusive approach has resulted in the preservation of multi-use open spaces for all Granite Staters. I was pleased to work with local leaders, state officials, conservation groups, and my federal colleagues to bring this project to completion,” said Rep. Bass, who has been a proponent of FLP in the House.
“The Forest Legacy Program has become an important tool in the protection of New Hampshire’s forested resources. In addition to protecting unique natural features and maintenance of the traditional working landscape, recreational opportunities on the property will continue” said Philip Bryce, State Forester. “The Trout Pond project is a wonderful example of what partnerships between federal government, state government and local communities can achieve.”
In addition to the FLP grant, New Hampshire’s Land & Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) contributed $250,000 to the project. The LCHIP award was among the final grants made from the funds available under the LCHIP appropriation in February 2004. A renewal of LCHIP funding is currently under consideration in the Legislature.
LCHIP Executive Director Rachel Rouillard commented, “We are so pleased to be a partner in the Trout Pond project. This project is wonderful example of what the LCHIP Program was designed for; to help conserve highly productive forest soils, to help ensure access to diverse recreational opportunities, and to assist communities with the key piece of funding to make a project possible. We congratulate the community for the hard work it has taken to achieve the conservation of this truly important natural resource.”
To complete the purchase, the Town of Freedom appropriated $100,000 at their March Town Meeting, and a local fundraising campaign raised over $500,000 from several sources, including private individuals and generous grants from several foundations. The partnership will continue to raise money for the creation of a Stewardship Fund. Those wishing to make a tax deductible donation to the Trout Pond project can send contributions to the Friends of Trout Pond at P.O. Box 259, Freedom, NH 03836 or call Chuck DePew at (603) 539-6303 or to the Green Mountain Conservation Group PO Box 95, Effingham, NH 03882 or call Blair Folts at (603) 539-1859.
Speaking on behalf of Freedom residents, Jennifer Molin, Chair of the Friends of Trout Pond Steering Committee, and Katie Gove, Freedom Conservation Commission, said in a joint statement: “We are proud to have helped create a legacy for future generations. We want to thank everybody for their generosity of both time and money. The energy of our community, coupled with the expertise of the Trust for Public Land, helped us take a dream and make it a reality.”
Blair Folts Executive Director of the Green Mountain Conservation Group, said, “When the Green Mountain Conservation Group was contacted by two residents, one from Freedom and one from Madison, about the possibility of conserving the Trout Pond properties, it seemed to be a seed of a dream. Four years later, we are excited to see that this dream has turned into a reality. It has been inspirational to witness a small grassroots organization, the Friends of Trout Pond working together with a local conservation group (GMCG) and a national conservation group (TPL) to create a Town Forest that can be enjoyed by all and well into the future.”
Located off the Ossipee Lake road in the towns of Freedom and Madison, the land was threatened with a series of development proposals over the years. It represents the largest parcel of undeveloped land in Freedom and is situated over the largest stratified drift aquifer in the state. As part of the Ossipee watershed, the property includes the 21 acre pristine Trout Pond, a portion of Jackman’s Ridge, and Mary’s Mountain. The parcel links a number of adjacent conserved properties, including the Nature Conservancy’s West Branch Pine Barrens Preserve and the Madison Town Forest, forming a block of protected land of over 5,000 acres. It is rich in history, with connections to Native Americans and colonial settlements, and particularly the historic village of Shawtown, where remnants of this settlement are still visible today.
The permanent conservation agreement that is now in place will forever protect the extensive forested habitat and drinking water, as well as the public access for low impact recreational uses. The land will be enjoyed for hiking, hunting, cross country skiing, horseback riding, and mountain biking for years to come, as well as fishing and boating on scenic Trout Pond itself, and these uses will be permanently available for residents and visitors to the area.
A local group of people formed the Friends of Trout Pond when they saw a chance to protect a unique and critical local landscape. The mission of the Friends of Trout Pond is to facilitate the procurement of the property for the purpose of preserving open space in the town of Freedom and Madison, New Hampshire.
The Green Mountain Conservation Group (GMCG) is a non-profit, charitable organization established in 1997 and dedicated to the preservation of the natural resources in the Ossipee Watershed. Through education and advocacy we strive to promote an awareness and appreciation of our natural resources and encourage a commitment to protect them. For more information, visit www.gmcg.org
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to 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 1.9 million acres of land in 46 states, including more than 230,000 acres in New Hampshire. TPL depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission.