Officials Aim to Protect Pond of Safety (NH)

Randolph, New Hampshire: Today U.S. Senator Judd Gregg and U.S. Representative Charles Bass are joining local officials and conservation organizations to highlight a conservation plan for the Pond of Safety property in Randolph and Jefferson. Recently, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) negotiated an exclusive right to purchase this roughly 12,000-acre property from Hancock Timber Resource Group for $4 million. The briefing is being held at 4:30 PM at the Ravine House Recreation Area, one mile east of Durand Road on Route 2 in Randolph.

Over the coming months, project supporters will be working to 1) add roughly 2,000 acres to the Kilkenny Unit of the White Mountain National Forest, 2) raise funds to enable the town of Randolph to purchase nearly 10,000 acres as a community forest, and 3) sell a conservation easement over the 10,000-acre community forest to the State of New Hampshire.

Thanks to the leadership of New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation, in 1999 the U.S. Congress designated $1.5 million for the White Mountain National Forest from the FY2000 Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriation. The U.S. Forest Service plans to use a portion of these funds, estimated at between $750,000 and $1 million, to purchase 2,000 acres as an addition to the White Mountain National Forest. The state of New Hampshire has also been awarded $1.5 million from the federal Forest Legacy Program to purchase a conservation easement over a portion of the property.

“The preservation of the wilderness land around the Pond of Safety will have ecological significance to the North Country,” said U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, which funds land conservation programs. “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.”

“As a life long resident of New Hampshire I have enjoyed the beauty of the state’s many natural resources and the recreational opportunities they provide,” said U.S. Representative Charles Bass (R-NH02). “Land conservation projects like Pond of Safety ensure that today’s residents and future generations will enjoy the quality of life they deserve. It has been a privilege to work with conservation groups, local, state, and federal officials to secure funding for this worthwhile project.”

“Because of its strategic location between the Kilkenny and Presidential Units of the White Mountain National Forest, the Pond of Safety property has been a conservation priority for decades,” said David Houghton, field office director for the Trust for Public Land. “We are very excited to have reached an agreement to purchase the property, and we look forward to working with the many partners involved to make this project a success.”

The town of Randolph is currently working in partnership with several organizations, including the Trust for Public Land, the Randolph Foundation, and the Appalachian Mountain Club, to raise $2 million in public and private funds to acquire 10,000 acres as a community forest and cover associated project costs. Thanks to lead gifts from the Merck Family Fund and individuals, more than $600,000 has already been pledged towards the town’s goal of $2 million.

Speakers at today’s briefing will include Senator Judd Gregg, Congressman Charles Bass, White Mountain National Forest Supervisor Donna Hepp, State Forester Phil Bryce, Randolph Planning Board members John Scarinza and David Willcox, David Houghton of the Trust for Public Land, Jane Difley of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and Peg Brady of the Appalachian Mountain Club.

Named for a small pond nestled high in the Ammonoosuc River watershed, the Pond of Safety property encompasses nearly 12,000 acres of hardwood forest in Randolph and Jefferson. The property lies between the Presidential and Kilkenny Units of the White Mountain National Forest, and its conservation will connect more than 800,000 acres of forestland. In addition to affording opportunities for hiking, cross-country skiing, canoeing, fishing, hunting, and snowmobiling, the land provides important feeding and breeding habitat for black bear, moose, neotropical songbirds, and other wildlife.

State Forester Philip Bryce commented, “The Forest Legacy Program is one of the main programs allowing the state of New Hampshire to protect our working forestland. The Pond of Safety project is an excellent example of a Forest Legacy project that will provide a broad range of benefits, from wood products to wildlife habitat.”

The effort to protect this property permanently is a collaboration between many partners, including the New Hampshire Congressional delegation, U.S. Forest Service, State of New Hampshire, Town of Randolph, the Trust for Public Land, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Appalachian Mountain Club, Randolph Mountain Club, Randolph Foundation, Merck Family Fund, Davis Conservation Foundation, Moriah Fund, Anna B. Stearns Fund, and the Stanton and Elisabeth Davis Fund of the Northern New Hampshire Foundation.

Donations to the Pond of Safety project can be sent to the Randolph Foundation, P.O. Box 283 Gorham, NH 03581.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1972 to protect land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Nationwide, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres, including nearly 8,500 acres in New Hampshire. For more information, contact TPL’s Montpelier, Vermont, office at (802) 223-1373 or visit them on the Web at