The Nature Conservancy Announces Opportunity to Protect 13,000 Acres in New Conservation Project

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Core of largest unfragmented forest in NH south of the White Mountains. Miles from Dartmouth College.

The Nature Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter announced today an agreement aimed at permanently protecting approximately 13,000 acres of productive forestland, high quality wildlife habitat, and headwater streams in the upper reaches of the Mascoma River. The Mascoma River Headwaters conservation project is located on the eastern flanks of New Hampshire’s Upper Valley region, and covers portions of the towns of Canaan, Dorchester, Lyme, and Hanover. This initiative is conserving the core of the largest unfragmented forest in New Hampshire south of the White Mountains.

The Mascoma Headwaters property includes more than 47 miles of frontage on rivers and streams including the Mascoma River and its tributaries, two-thirds of the frontage on Clark Pond, and more than 400 acres of high quality wetlands. The Mascoma River provides the City of Lebanon with municipal drinking water that serves a population of more than 10,000 people. Immediately downstream of the project area, many other groundwater withdrawals along the Mascoma River supply water for residential uses, schools, industry and small businesses. The land harbors a suite of rare species, exemplary natural communities, and important habitat for nearly 100 species of migratory and breeding birds. Bisected by the Appalachian Trail corridor, with dozens of miles of snowmobile trails, and dominated by productive forests, the region is highly valued for its abundant recreational opportunities and contributions to the outdoor recreation and forest products economy.

A recently signed conservation agreement with the property owner gives The Nature Conservancy the remarkable opportunity to initiate protection of this land through a combination of outright conservation purchases and perpetual conservation easements. The Nature Conservancy hopes to purchase approximately 4,215 acres of the most ecologically sensitive lands outright (known as fee simple interest) in December 2011 with these lands managed primarily for wildlife habitat and public access. An additional 8,745 acres of adjoining forestland will be protected through working forest and habitat conservation easements. The easements – which will ensure sustainable forest management practices, protect water resources, and provide recreational access - will be acquired as federal and matching funds become available, anticipated in 2013.

The objective of the Mascoma River Headwaters conservation project is to secure diverse public benefits from preservation and ongoing usage of the land. This historic agreement pledges to safeguard critical wildlife habitat, secure public access for recreational opportunities, maintain working timberland, and to protect and sustain clean waterways.

In order to complete the phases of the conservation project, The Nature Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter will work to raise private funds and secure public funds. For more information about the Mascoma River Headwaters conservation project visit http://www.nature.org/mascoma.

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific.

Celebrating its 50th year in New Hampshire, The Nature Conservancy has helped protect more than 270,000 acres of critical natural lands. The Conservancy has had a significant impact on areas such as the Great Bay, the Connecticut River, the Mt. Washington Valley, and the North Country. The chapter has provided clean water and protected land for New Hampshire residents and visitors to enjoy the true environment of the state. Volunteers and donors of The Nature Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter have been instrumental in the success of each of its initiatives.

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Mark Zankel, Deputy State Director
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