Robb Reservoir Conservation Effort Completed (NH)

July 1, 2008
New Hamshire

Stoddard, NH, 7/1/2008: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit conservation organization, announced that it has completed a project to conserve 1,670 acres in Stoddard, known locally as the Robb Reservoir property. The Harris Center for Conservation Education, a key partner in the effort and now owner of the property, hosted a celebration today marking the successful conclusion of the two-and-a-half-year effort. A brief ceremony was followed by the unveiling of a new sign for the property.

The Harris Center now owns the 1,670 acres, while the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands holds a permanent conservation easement over the land. The property will be managed in accordance with a long-term stewardship plan, with a primary focus on wildlife habitat protection, with public access for recreation, and limited sustainable timber management.

Rodger Krussman, New Hampshire State Director for TPL, said, "The Robb Reservoir parcel is a natural jewel, but it's located in a rapidly developing part of southwestern New Hampshire. Conservation of this property for its outstanding wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and connectivity to other conserved land was important to the community. The Trust for Public Land was very pleased to be able to hold this property off the market while permanent conservation was pursued. We are very grateful to the New Hampshire congressional delegation for their strong support of this project."

For over two decades, conservation of this parcel has been a key priority for local and statewide conservation groups and area residents. The property includes the Robb Reservoir, a portion of Rye Pond, and the headwaters of the North Branch of the Contoocook River, as well as surrounding land. Conservation of this property provides a critical connection, both ecologically and geographically, with nearly forty thousand acres of existing conserved land in the region.

The $3.9 million project was the top-ranked priority for the New Hampshire Forest Legacy Program in 2006 and was included in the President's FY 2007 budget. The project received $3 million from the USDA Forest Legacy Program (FLP) for the purchase of a conservation easement, which will prevent the land from ever being developed. The New Hampshire congressional delegation, led by U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, worked to secure the federal FLP funds to protect the property.

Senator Gregg said, "Robb Reservoir has one of the most diverse ecosystems in New England and provides critically important habitats to numerous bird, fish and plant species. It also provides recreational opportunities for visitors and residents of all ages to enjoy. I applaud The Trust for Public Land, the Town of Stoddard and members of the local communities who have worked so hard to protect this special place; their commitment further illustrates why New Hampshire continues to be a leader in environmental conservation."

The state also contributed significant state funds, including a $250,000 grant from the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the state's conservation grant program, as well as funds from the sale of the Conservation License Plate (Moose Plate) under the NH State Conservation Committee grant program.

The Town of Stoddard added $50,000, a first-ever town contribution toward a conservation project which was unanimously supported at Town Meeting. Other large contributions were received from NAWCA, a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and several grants from NH Fish and Game. Private donations from the local community exceeded $440,000.

At today's ceremony, Stoddard resident Geoff Jones was recognized for his tireless personal contributions to the conservation effort. Jones was a member of the Fundraising Committee and was instrumental in securing $50,000 from the Town of Stoddard, and was also an advocate for the FLP funding. Jones was a member of the Stewardship Committee that worked over several months to create an initial 10 year Stewardship Plan for the property. He was nominated by The Trust for Public Land for its Volunteer Conservationist of the Year Award.

Robb Reservoir lies within the Harris Center's Supersanctuary, a conservation area for wildlife and people which now includes more than 14,000 acres of conserved land. Meade Cadot, the Center's Director, said, "The 150-acre scenic reservoir with its surrounding wild lands was posted against public use for years but is now open. It is a fantastic spot for kayaking, canoeing and warm water fishing."

"This is a wonderful example of public/private partnership and community involvement to protect important forestland in this part of New Hampshire," said Philip Bryce, Director of New Hampshire Forests and Lands.

Deirdre Raimo, Northeastern Area Forest Legacy Program Manager for the U.S. Forest Service, said, "The Robb Reservoir Forest Legacy tract offers traditional forest uses, including forest management, recreational opportunities, and watershed protection in close proximity to a benefitting population. This corresponds with the intent of the Forest Legacy Program, which is to promote public benefits from important forest land."

With extensive road frontage on Route 123 and two access points along Route 9, the property is within easy commuting distance to Keene and Concord. Prior to TPL entering into a contract with the owners, the Robb Reservoir property was for sale on the open market, and an 80-unit housing development was proposed for the property in the recent past. The Highland Street Foundation provided a $500,000 loan to TPL to hold the property off the market while federal funds were pending.

In addition to its local significance, the project is important from a regional perspective. The project falls within the focus area of the Quabbin-to-Cardigan (Q2C) conservation collaborative, a private/public effort to establish a continuous conservation corridor from the southern White Mountains of west-central New Hampshire to the Quabbin Reservoir, located in north-central Massachusetts. The Robb Reservoir area also harbors several threatened and endangered species and natural communities.

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. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.

The Harris Center for Conservation Education is a member-supported nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and respect for our natural environment through education of all ages, direct protection and exemplary stewardship of the region's natural resources, and programs that encourage active participation in the great outdoors. More information can be found at www.harriscenter.org.