Sale of CT Headwaters Finalized (NH)
Concord, New Hampshire, 4/1/02- International Paper (NYSE: IP) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) announced today the finalized sale of 171,500 acres in Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown, NH, known as the Connecticut Lakes property, for $32.7 million. The sale marks the transfer of ownership from International Paper to TPL of the largest unbroken tract of private forestland in New Hampshire. This purchase is a critical milestone in the partnership effort between TPL, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and The Nature Conservancy to permanently conserve the property.
“This has been a tremendous collaborative effort involving government, private industry and conservation groups promoting the responsible stewardship of our natural resources,” said Dave Lieser, region manager, IP’s Forest Resources, Northern Operations. “It is a great compliment to International Paper and our Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFISM) efforts that organizations like The Trust for Public Land have an interest in working with us. We are pleased that this forestland will continue the legacy of sustaining the economic, conservation and recreational interests of the community.”
“If we let this treasure slip away, all New Hampshire would feel the loss. Preserving this land will save hundreds of jobs, protect environmentally sensitive areas, and guarantee that the people of New Hampshire will also be able to enjoy this special place,” Gov. Jeanne Shaheen said.
Senator Judd Gregg stated, “At almost 3% of New Hampshire’s land mass, the International Paper land will continue to serve as an important economic resource for the families of the North Country, while maintaining its scenic beauty, recreation and environmental importance to the state. The local, state, federal, public/private bi-partisan partnership developed to complete the sale is an excellent example of ‘The New Hampshire Way’ and proud tradition of addressing critical resource management issues through informed collaboration and respectful dialogue.” As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Senator Gregg was able to -more- secure $3.6 million in 2001 as an initial payment on the federal government’s share of the total cost.”
“This is one of the most exciting environmental achievements in our State’s history,” said Senator Bob Smith. “It is a terrific example of what can be done when local, state, and federal governments work together with private industry and conservation interests to seize a unique opportunity. By keeping the majority of the land as a working forest, and maintaining the traditional recreation, economic, wildlife, and natural resources on these lands, the people of New Hampshire and the region can continue to enjoy these lands for generations to come.”
“This project will serve as a shining example of what can be accomplished when several competing interests are willing to come together and negotiate in good faith to reach a common goal,” said 2nd District Congressman Charles Bass. “The general public will reap the rewards for generations to come. I am pleased to have served on the task force to develop a long-term vision for the future use of this land. Moreover, I look forward to working with the rest of the Congressional Delegation to secure additional federal funding for this important project.”
“This has been a tremendous cooperative effort to finalize the transfer of the International Paper land to The Trust for Public Land—a critical step in the preservation and protection of one of our state’s great natural resources,” said Congressman John E. Sununu, who serves as a member of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force and provided formal support for Senator Judd Gregg’s initiative to secure $3.6 million in the Fiscal Year 2002 Interior Appropriations Act to purchase easements on the land. “I will continue to work with our Congressional delegation to ensure that additional federal funds are secured for this project. Moreover, I will work to maintain New Hampshire’s great history of land conservation, respect for multiple use, and open access to thousands of acres of public land for future generations.”
“Without question, this is the most important conservation, open-space protection project ever undertaken in the State of New Hampshire,” said New Hampshire House Speaker Gene Chandler. “The ramifications of our success on this project will impact all future generations of New Hampshire citizens, and enable them to continue to enjoy all the historical uses of this North Country land. The bipartisan cooperation of local, state, federal and private entities has been unprecedented and I am proud to have played a part in the success of the project.”
“As the Senate member of the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force and a life-long resident of Northern New Hampshire, I am proud and pleased that we accomplished all of the goals we set out to achieve. Residents of the North Country can rest assured that the many traditional uses of their back yard will be preserved for years to come,” said Senator Harold Burns, who spoke at the news conference on behalf of New Hampshire Senate President Arthur Klemm.
An independent appraisal, which has now been approved by the U.S. Forest Service calculated the property’s fair market value at $32.9 million.
After purchasing the property from International Paper, TPL immediately sold 25,000 acres, which will be set aside as natural areas, to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for $5.5 million. TPL plans to hold the remainder of the property temporarily until federal and state officials, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, The Nature Conservancy, and TPL can assemble the funding needed for its permanent conservation.
“Today marks a critical milestone in the effort to permanently conserve this outstanding property,” said Whitney Hatch, New England director of the Trust for Public Land. “The Trust for Public Land is grateful to International Paper for providing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we are honored to be playing a role in protecting their land. This effort would not have been possible without the leadership of an unprecedented coalition of New Hampshire citizens, elected officials, our partners the Forest Society and the Nature Conservancy, public agencies, businesses, and other private supporters. Together, we will leave an inspiring legacy for future generations.”
“This landmark initiative demonstrates the broad-based commitment to conserve important natural areas and maintain sustainably managed working forests in a manner that will benefit wildlife, guarantee public recreational access, and sustain the culture and economy of local communities,” said Daryl Burtnett, state director of The Nature Conservancy. “We look forward to working with the State of New Hampshire to ensure that the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Natural Area permanently protects rugged mountain peaks, remote ponds, lush wetlands and rich wildlife habitat, and sets us on a path to restore old growth forest in our Great North Woods.”
“Baseball and conservation are foremost in the minds of Granite Staters these days. The Connecticut Lakes Headwaters project isn’t just a base hit for conservation, it’s a grand slam,” said Jane A. Difley, president/forester of the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. “The project is testament to the power of teamwork. And now the team needs to move forward to raise the federal, state and private funds to make it all work. With the team we’ve got, I am confident we’ll win.”
TPL was able to purchase the property thanks to a combination of loans and grants from Lyme Timber Co., the Open Space Conservancy, New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), and Wainwright Bank and Trust Company.
“Lyme Timber looks forward to its ownership of the these productive timberlands and acknowledges the significant efforts made by the Governor, the Legislature, the NH Congressional delegation, Division of Forests and Lands, Department of Fish and Game, and the creative collaboration amongst TPL, TNC and SPNHF to make this happen. We recognize the important regional economic significance of this forest and plan to manage the property in a manner that provides a viable economic return with public access and natural resource conservation,” said Peter Stein, general partner for Lyme Timber Company.
“This land is at the heart of the 26 million-acre Northern Forest—the largest undeveloped forest left in the east,” said Denise Schlener, program director for the Open Space Conservancy’s Northern Forest Protection Fund. “The citizens of New Hampshire have recognized the forest’s importance for timber production, wildlife protection, and recreational opportunities and acted to protect it before these values were lost to development, as we have seen time and time again -more- elsewhere. I am delighted that the Open Space Conservancy’s Northern Forest Protection Fund can play a role in protecting this vital landscape.”
“The LCHIP Authority was established by the NH Legislature with the intent of conserving and preserving the state’s most important natural, cultural and historical resources through the acquisition of lands and cultural and historical resources, or interests therein for the primary purposes of protecting and ensuring the perpetual contribution of these resources to the state’s economy, environment and overall quality of life,” said Rachel Rouillard, executive director of LCHIP. “These 171,000 acres are not only important from a natural resources and recreational perspective, but this land has important cultural and historic value to the state as well. This area is an integral part of the economy of the north country because of its contribution to timbering trade and the tourist industry. We are so pleased to have been offered the opportunity to participate in this unique project, and to be a part of making NH history.”
“As one of the country’s leading socially responsible lenders and a long-time supporter of TPL, Wainwright Bank is honored to direct our depositors’ money towards the financing of this historically significant project,” said Nora Bloch, project lender for Wainwright Bank and Trust Company.
In December 2001, the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force released a Recommended Protection Plan for the Connecticut Lakes property, which was designed to balance recreation, economic vitality, and natural resource protection. Co-chaired by Governor Jeanne Shaheen and U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, the Task Force’s 42-member steering and technical committees held regular public meetings to solicit input from North Country and New Hampshire residents through the late summer and fall of 2001.
In accordance with the Task Force’s recommendations, the project anticipates 1) the purchase of a conservation easement covering 146,400 acres by the State of New Hampshire, using state and federal funds, 2) the purchase of these 146,400 acres by Lyme Timber for continued forestry operations, 3) the purchase of 25,000 acres of the most ecologically sensitive habitat by the State of New Hampshire to be set aside as natural areas, with a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy, and 4) the purchase of 100 acres by the State of New Hampshire as an addition to the Connecticut Lakes State Forest.
Thanks to the strong support of New Hampshire’s legislative leadership, a bill authorizing up to $10 million in state funding for the project was approved by the House of Representatives in February and is under consideration in the Senate. Now, project supporters are seeking $8 million in private funds and working with Senators Gregg and Smith and Representatives Bass and Sununu to raise $8 million in additional federal funds for the project.
International Paper(http://www.internationalpaper.com) is the world’s largest paper and forest products company. Businesses include paper, packaging, and forest products. As one of the largest private forest landowners in the world, the company manages its forests under the principles of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFIsm ) program, a system that ensures the continual planting, growing and harvesting of trees while protecting wildlife, plants, soil, air and water quality. Headquartered in the United States, at Stamford, Conn., International Paper has operations in nearly 50 countries and exports its products to more than 130 nations.