Town of Milan Acquires 265 Acres for Community Forest

April 7, 2016
Milan, NH

The town of Milan today bought land to begin creating a community forest that will provide the town with income through sustainable timber harvesting, as well as places for local residents to hike, hunt, fish and enjoy the outdoors.  The project also protects important wildlife habitat in New Hampshire’s North Country.

The two parcels, totaling 265 acres, are the first components in creating a town-owned community forest that will eventually exceed 1,300 acres.

“This has been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited,” said George Pozzuto, chair of the Milan Community Forest Committee. “The Milan Community Forest Committee has been working for four years to acquire land.  Owning our own productive timberland and important recreation land will bring so many benefits to Milan. We want to thank The Trust for Public Land, the Northern Forest Center, and all of the funders who made this acquisition happen.  I also want to thank the citizens of Milan for their strong support for the creation of a community forest for our town.”

“We were pleased to help the people of Milan create their Community Forest,” said J.T. Horn, senior project manager for The Trust for Public Land.  “Our mission is protecting land for people, and in a town like Milan, that means protecting the traditional connections to the forest.  We’re working with Milan on another 547 acres to add to the forest.”

The Milan Community Forest, on Oak Hill and French Hill near the Berlin Airport, is managed by a volunteer committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The Trust for Public Land bought the land and led fundraising, while the Northern Forest Center helped Milan organize the Community Forest Committee, create a governance structure, and develop a forest stewardship plan.

The $320,000 cost to purchase the parcels came from several sources, including private money, and state and federal funds including the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Program, The Open Space Institute’s Community Forest Fund, the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program and the Town of Milan. 

The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation awarded a grant to fund expert technical assistance from the Northern Forest Center and The Trust for Public Land to launch and complete the project.  The Law Firm of Samaha, Russell and Hogdon of Littleton, N.H., also provided pro-bono legal services to The Trust for Public Land and the Town of Milan.

The property includes productive timber stands and some wetlands feeding Leavitt Stream, which flows into the Androscoggin River.  The property also has a small field that may eventually be developed into a trailhead parking area.  The land will be protected by a conservation easement held by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.  The easement prohibits future development and assures that forestry will be done according to the highest standards. 

The Milan project is similar to other New Hampshire community forests, including those in Errol and Randolph.  “Milan can look forward to economic benefits from timber harvest revenue and a variety of community benefits from recreation, to hunting and fishing and the likely development of a trail system,” said Julie Renaud Evans, program director for the Northern Forest Center.  “Sustained public access is very important to the quality of life in the North Country.” The Milan Village School also intends to use the property as an outdoor classroom for its integrated environmental education programs. 

A $160,000-grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest Program helped pay for these properties.  An additional $240,000 in federal funds are available for future acquisition phases. This competitive federal grant was secured by the Town of Milan after a national competition ranked the Milan project as the #1 project in the nation.  U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), supported the town’s application and helped find the Forest Service money after it was redirected to fight western wildfires. 

The Open Space Institute—which established its Community Forest Fund with a lead grant from Jane’s Trust to support the creation and expansion of community forests in northern New England—pledged the first $50,000 grant to the Milan Community Forest.  Money from the state of New Hampshire came from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP).  “I want to thank the Open Space Institute and LCHIP for their generosity and patience with this project,” said TPL’s Horn.  "Small rural towns like Milan need outside funding from public and private sources to protect their special places.  We hope that OSI and LCHIP will continue to invest in Community Forests throughout New Hampshire.”

“Today’s announcement that the first 265 acres of the Milan Community Forest have been protected is truly exciting news for New Hampshire, particularly the North Country,” said Shaheen. “I’m a strong supporter of the Milan Community Forest project and proud to have fought to reinstate the project’s funding. Preserving our beautiful spaces is important for our state’s identity and economy. I’ll continue working to see this project through to its completion.”

“I am very pleased that the U.S. Forest Service listened to our call and has restored the funding necessary to allow the Milan Community Forest project to move forward,” said Ayotte. “It is critical that we preserve and protect our pristine outdoors for future generations, and this project will provide both local residents and visitors with a place to enjoy outdoor recreation activities, as well as a source of municipal income from sustainable timber harvesting.”

“It is wonderful to see the Milan Community Forest start to take shape after years of work to make this once distant dream become a reality,” said Kuster. “Together with members of the Milan Community Forest Committee, town officials, and stakeholder groups, I was proud to help facilitate the creation of Milan’s first community forest by calling on the U.S. Forest Service to restore vital federal funding that enabled the town to purchase this land. Containing wetlands, productive timber stands, and road frontage, the Milan Community Forest will provide significant economic and social benefits to the community for years to come.”

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of 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 Northern Forest Center is a nonprofit organization that builds economic and community vitality while fostering sound forest stewardship across the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.

CONTACTS

J.T. Horn, Trust for Public Land, 603-236-9866 or [email protected]
Julie Renaud Evans, Northern Forest Center, 603-724-8322 or [email protected]
George Pozzuto, Milan Community Forest Committee, 603-723-7313 or [email protected]