U.S. Forest Service Grant Awarded to Page Pond Community Forest

To the joy of local outdoor enthusiasts, The Trust for Public Land today announced that it had been awarded a grant of $300,000 from the U.S. Forest Service to go towards acquiring 199 acres to be added to the existing 562-acre Page Pond Community Forest. The project has now received 90% of its projects costs, and the final funds will be sought through a private fundraising campaign by The Trust for Public Land.

The Page Pond Community Forest is both a site of outdoor recreation and provides clean drinking water to the local community. Hikers, walkers, and joggers enjoy the local forest, and this upcoming expansion will provide easier access for residents of Meredith Village and for classes from the Interlakes School Campus. The Page Pond expansion also includes 35 acres of wetlands and Bickford Brook, a tributary of Meredith Bay on Lake Winnipesauke.

“As the community of Meredith continues to grow, projects like the Page Pond Community Forest are integral to the health and well-being of residents, “ said Honor Lawler of The Trust for Public Land. “We thank the U.S. Forest Service for this generous grant and are grateful for the partnership from the local Meredith Conservation Commission.”

This grant from the Forest Service is part of its Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program. $2 million was granted to seven Community Forest Program projects in Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Wisconsin. To be selected for one of the grants a project must guarantee public access and community members must play a role in developing the plan and goals for the space.

The Trust for Public Land and the Town of Meredith have been working for many years to conserve the Page Pond Community Forest. In 2010, The Trust for Public Land protected 562 acres around Page Pond and immediately transferred the land to Meredith to be used as a community asset. Since that acquisition the town has built a trail system, conducted a timber harvest, and led outdoor education opportunities for community members and school children. For both this current transaction and the one in 2010, The Trust for Public Land facilitated both negotiations with the landowner and led real estate due diligence and fundraising.

The USFS Community Forest Program grant received exceptional support from the entire New Hampshire Congressional delegation.

“Forestland conservation is not only critical to preserving the environment for future generations, it also makes economic sense,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH. “I want to thank the Trust for Public Land for their work to conserve New Hampshire’s forests, and I congratulate them on receiving this U.S. Forest Service grant to preserve Page Pond Community Forest. This grant promotes sustainable forestry practices that will protect the environment in the long run and help keep Meredith’s community forest intact.”

“It is critical that we develop public parks and protect our public land in New Hampshire for future generations,” said Senator Maggie Hassan, D-NH. “This federal-private partnership will protect the Page Pond community forest, preserving more space for Granite State families to enjoy the outdoors for years to come. I would like to thank the U.S. Forest Service for providing this grant and The Trust for Public Land for their leadership throughout the process.”

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH, added: “Page Pond Community Forest is a regional treasure, and its expansion will give the community’s residents and future generations greater access and enjoyment. I thank the U.S. Forest Service and the Trust for Public Land for making this possible.”

“I applaud the Trust for Public Land for their dedicated efforts to preserve environmentally sensitive land in New Hampshire, and thank the U.S. Forest Service for their continued investment to protect our forests,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster, D-NH. “The expansion of the Page Pond Community Forest will provide enhanced recreational opportunities for Granite Staters while allowing responsible forest management practices that will maintain the resiliency of our public lands. I congratulate the town of Meredith on this great accomplishment and the town’s commitment to protecting our environment.”

Meredith’s Community Development John Edgar noted that the success of this exciting conservation project is due to many ingredients, “Our long range plans identify the important role that protected open spaces play in defining our community, in supporting our economy and contributing to our quality of life. We also have local, state and federal support without which this project would not likely happen. Finally, we have positive working relationships; relationships between volunteers and staff, between bodies of local government, with state and federal funding partners and with The Trust for Public Land.” Edgar concluded, “We are so grateful to have such an outstanding organization guide us to success.”

Additional funding from NH’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), NH Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund, the Open Space Institute, the Town of Meredith, and the NH State Conservation Committee’s “Moose Plate” program have all significantly contributed towards the purchase price. A fundraising campaign for the final $170,000 needed to purchase the land is underway. Some of the outstanding project costs include funds for a stewardship endowment, invasive species control, and trail work. Community members who are interested in learning more about how to donate can contact Honor Lawler at honor.lawler@tpl.org.