Iconic Stonehouse Pond Protected

More than 240 acres of land in Barrington, N.H., including Stonehouse Pond, have been permanently protected, The Trust for Public Land and the Strafford Rivers Conservancy announced today.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, purchased the Stonehouse Pond property from the Carolyn S. Bedford Trust and transferred ownership to the Strafford Rivers Conservancy. Strafford Rivers Conservancy will own and manage the property for year-round low impact recreational uses, including hiking, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, trapping, canoeing, bird watching, and nature appreciation.

Conservation of Stonehouse Pond was completed in two phases. In 2007, TPL bought 11.56 acres from the Parkhurst Family containing an access road and parking area used by recreational visitors to the pond. TPL held onto this land for three years while working with Strafford Rivers Conservancy, New Hampshire Fish and Game, the Town of Barrington, and others to raise funds to complete the second phase-acquisition of 230.2 acres surrounding and including Stonehouse Pond.

“It’s a great day. The determined efforts of a diverse team have finally succeeded to conserve Stonehouse Pond, and the project partners have weathered unprecedented funding challenges,” said Gregg Caporossi, TPL project manager. “TPL began discussions with the Bedford Family more than three years ago, but we owe this successful outcome in no small part to the patience of the landowners and the perseverance of the many dedicated organizations and volunteers who worked so hard to help conserve this wonderful property.”

Funding for the acquisitions included a $652,927 grant from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) from its Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). George W. Cleek, IV, NRCS state conservationist said, “last year, we were able to fund over $20,000,000 for sixty-two WRP easement acquisitions in New Hampshire. This is another great accomplishment for the legacy of federal funding through the WRP Program.”

Other funding for the acquisition included $100,000 from Barrington’s Conservation Fund; $40,000 from the New Hampshire Conservation Committee; $30,000 from New Hampshire Fish and Game’s Fish Habitat Fund; and $12,000 from two Piscataqua Regional Estuaries Partnership grants. These public commitments were matched with $20,000 in foundation grants and donations from individuals to reach the $855,000 goal, covering the purchase price, project expenses, and establishing a stewardship endowment.

Phil Auger, with University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension (UNHCE), said, “Stonehouse Pond is one of the open space jewels of southeastern New Hampshire. Generations of residents have rejoiced at its beauty, enjoyed fishing in its waters and recreating in the woodlands that surround it. We are all so lucky that the Bedford Family has been such great stewards of this land, that they recognized its importance and wanted to assure that this treasure is conserved forever. I’m honored to have been a small part of the team that helped get it done.”

“I am in awe of the support and dedication of everyone involved in this project, but TPL owes a debt of gratitude to Phil Auger of UNH Cooperative Extension, Sue Hoey, of the NRCS, Carolyn and Pat Bedford, New Hampshire Fish and Game, Strafford Rivers Conservancy, and the Town of Barrington,” added Carporossi. “Because of their efforts, this iconic landscape will remain open to the public in perpetuity.”

“It is the fulfillment of a dream to have Stonehouse Pond permanently protected,” said John Wallace, member of the Barrington Conservation Commission. “Barrington has long sought to protect this property as one of the defining places of this community. Funding conservation projects such as this in the middle of a financial crisis is a huge challenge, but the patience and perseverance of many in the town, and especially of TPL, have finally paid off.”

Stonehouse Pond has been a conservation priority for the Town of Barrington and the entire conservation community. As a catch and release, fly-fishing only trout pond, Stonehouse Pond offers anglers a wilderness experience more commonly associated with the North Country than New Hampshire’s increasingly urbanized coastal area. While primarily used by anglers, this stunning Great Pond bordered by towering cliffs is also popular with non-anglers seeking solitude or glimpses of the abundant wildlife residing on the property.

“We are grateful to the Bedford family for their willingness to conserve this spectacular property and for the efforts of so many partners, especially Gregg Caporossi from TPL and Phil Auger from UNHCE for their years of work on this project. We are pleased to be a part of this wonderful conservation success and feel honored to become stewards of this beautiful place loved by so many,” said Anna Boudreau, executive director of the Strafford Rivers Conservancy.

Glenn Normandeau, Executive Director of New Hampshire Fish and Game, added, “The Department is pleased to have been a partner in protecting this unique property. This project will help to ensure that the pond will remain a valuable public resource and an important trout fishery in the southeastern part of the State. We look forward to working with the Strafford Rivers Conservancy and the Town of Barrington to manage the lands surrounding the Pond. I would also like to recognize The Trust for Public Land for all the hard work required to bring this project to a successful conclusion.”

George Cleek, NRCS State conservationist, said, “The USDA/NRCS is in the unique position of being a non-regulatory federal agency with significant funding to help private landowners protect their land and conserve natural and cultural resources. In this case, the WRP program not only helped to protect this property, it will also provide funding for restoration of compromised wetland habitat. I couldn’t be more impressed with the work of all the partners and private organizations and individuals that made this significant project a reality.” In addition to WRP, the NRCS Farm and Ranch Lands and Grassland Protection Programs also offer financial and technical help to conserve private lands.

Conservation of Stonehouse Pond is the latest effort as part of TPL’s Coastal Community Initiative. Working closely with communities and local land trusts throughout New Hampshire’s coastal region, TPL has helped communities protect more than 1,600 acres for this and future generations, including projects in Strafford, Rye, North Hampton, Newfields, and Hampton Falls.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. In New Hampshire, TPL has protected more than 230,000 acres.

The Strafford Rivers Conservancy is a non-profit land trust dedicated to conserving the natural resources, local beauty, and character of lands throughout greater Strafford County parts of southern Carroll County. The SRC achieves its mission through the promotion of conservation easements, outreach and education, and the acquisition and stewardship of conservation lands. The SRC works closely with all sectors of the community including public agencies, private landowners, businesses and other non-profit organizations. To learn more or to support local land conservation contact the SRC at (603) 516-0772 or visit them online atwww.StraffordRiversConservancy.org