Page Pond Owners Agree to Sell for Reduced Price (NH)

MEREDITH, NH, 11/13/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced that they have reached agreement with the Wilds of New England to purchase Page Pond and Forest at a substantially reduced price. The original project budget had a cost of $2.6 Million, but under the terms of the new agreement, the total project goal has been reduced by $350,000. TPL and the Town have until January 9, 2009 to raise the remaining funds needed to acquire the property for conservation.

The 567-acre property in East Meredith is a top conservation priority because of its recreational uses, wildlife habitat, and importance to the water quality of Lake Winnipesaukee. Meredith residents have long considered the Page Pond and Forest tract as an identifying feature of the community and a highly significant scenic area. It features an unfragmented forest, a completely undeveloped 19-acre pond, and an extensive wetland complex.

Gregg Caporossi, a Project Manager for TPL, said, “The Wilds of New England have given us more time and accepted a reduced price so we can have the chance to fulfill our task of conserving this unique land. It is now up to the community to take advantage of this opportunity to raise the final funds.”

To date, the Campaign to Save Page Pond and Forest has raised $1.85 million, or 82% of the new $2.25 million total. This includes $750,000 in town funds, $400,000 from LCHIP – the State of New Hampshire’s land protection program – and private donations. Working in partnership with the Town of Meredith, the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association, LCHIP, and a dedicated Campaign Committee, among others, TPL must raise the remaining $400,000 through a combination of public and private sources.

The urgency of the campaign has reached new heights as the goal is finally in sight. Betsy McGean, TPL’s Campaign Director, said, “We have renewed hope that we can now achieve our final goal for this campaign. We appreciate the commitment of all our partners who have brought the effort this far. We’ve just secured a $100,000 challenge gift from an enthusiastic TPL donor who will match other’s donations to the Page Pond Project through the end of this year, up to $100,000. The challenge gift is motivational and is exactly what we need to encourage the community to stretch their generosity one last time.”

Don MacFarlane, Chair of the Meredith Conservation Commission, said, “Thanks to our generous supporter, we could have $200,000 of our remaining $400,000 gap within reach. Now is the time for those who care about preserving the character of Meredith, and one of our last remaining natural areas, to help us leave a lasting legacy for future generations. We are grateful to the landowners for working with us to bring this across the finish line.”

The Town of Meredith and regional conservation groups have long identified the Page Pond property as a priority for protection because of its size, its impact on the Lake Winnipesauke watershed and its varied natural habitat. The Page Pond wetlands are the most diverse and highly valued wetlands in Meredith, providing ideal habitat for fish and many birds. This rich aquatic system, in close proximity to a large forested upland area, also provides critical habitat for many animal species.

After the purchase, the Conservation Commission will open up the property for year-round low-impact recreation, including hiking, cross country skiing, hunting, fishing, canoeing, bird watching and nature appreciation. As a community owned and managed asset, public access and recreation would continue in perpetuity.

Town of Meredith, New Hampshire, located at the foot of the White Mountains in the beautiful lakes region of New Hampshire, was incorporated in 1768 by Governor John Wentworth. With a population of 6,401, Meredith is located among New Hampshire’s largest lakes: Winnipesaukee, Squam, Winnisquam, Waukewan, Kanasatka, Wicwas, Pemigewasset, and Winona. The Town operates under a Selectmen/Town Manager form of government and has a five-member Board of Selectmen.

The Page Pond and Forest Leadership Campaign Committee is a dedicated group of volunteers working together with TPL and the Town to conserve this remarkable property.