Third Largest Conservation Project in NH History Completed
A conservation project intended to protect local jobs, including those in the timber and recreation industries, has been completed in the Androscoggin River headwaters, The Trust for Public Land and several partners announced today.
The last step came when the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development bought conservation easements on 23,000 acres owned by Plum Creek Timber Company. The easements mean the land will remain in Plum Creek's ownership, but it cannot be subdivided or developed.
A public ceremony on August 28 marked the completion of the 31,300-acre Androscoggin protection effort, the third-largest in the state's history.
Rodger Krussman, New Hampshire Director for The Trust for Public Land, said, "We are pleased to protect this land and the jobs and economy it supports in Coos County. It was important to strike a balance between conservation of critical wildlife habitat and ensuring continuation of jobs associated with managing the many forest resources on the land, including being open to recreation users to hike, paddle, hunt and fish. Our mission is to protect land for people and this project is a great example."
The entire project cost $17 million, including $7.4 million for the last two easements. Money for the two easements came from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Legacy Program. Earlier, the nearby Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge bought 7,400 acres and the N.H. Department of Fish and Game acquired 934 acres around the Greenough Ponds.
Plum Creek will continue to practice sustainable forestry on the 23,000 acres they still own, though 2,000 acres will have special protections where timber harvesting will be overseen by the N.H. Department of Fish and Game to protect habitat for white-tailed deer, American marten and other animals.
Trout Unlimited and The Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture both endorsed the project for protecting "the best of the best" for brook trout habitat in the eastern United States, including 54 miles of streams and the Greenough Ponds, two of only three wild brook trout ponds in New Hampshire.
Also protected are several miles on "The Moose Path Trail," one of the state's scenic byways on Route 26 and Route 16.
"Protection of these natural resources and recreation opportunities is what drives the regional economy for forest products and for tourism" said Jeff Rose, Commissioner of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. "Our economic development strategy for the North Country includes retaining a stable source of forest products and protection of our special places where people go to recreate and enjoy the scenic beauty found north of the notches."
The project has been a high priority for both the N.H. Division of Forests and Land and the U.S. Forest Service. "We ranked this project as the #1 Forest Legacy project in New Hampshire for two years running as we really believed in the vision of maintaining commercial forestland next to the wildlife habitat protection at the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge," said Brad Simpkins, New Hampshire State Forester.
"Plum Creek has helped achieve conservation outcomes on nearly 1.5 million acres nationwide, and we are pleased to partner to conserve this New Hampshire land, which has exceptional ecological, wildlife and recreational values," said Scott Henker, General Manager of Plum Creek's Northern Hardwood region. "We recognize the efforts of The Trust for Public Land and the State of New Hampshire in making this conservation project successful."
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year.
The New Hampshire Division of Forest and Lands is the steward of New Hampshire's forests and related resources. This mission is accomplished through responsible management of the state's forested resources; by providing forest resource information and education to the public; and the protection of these resources for the continuing benefit of the state's citizens, visitors and forest industry. www.nhdfl.org
Plum Creek is among the largest and most geographically diverse private landowners in the United States with timberlands in 19 states, and wood products mills in the Northwest. We manage our lands using sustainable practices to benefit Plum Creek's many stakeholders. Our talented employees work together to serve as stewards of the environment, make wood products for everyday use, and build strong communities to create shareholder value. For more information, please visit www.plumcreek.com.