NEW YORK, NY - July 1, 2002 - The Open Space Institute (OSI) today announced six grants and loans to four land trusts totaling $4.2 million to support the purchase of over 245,000 acres of private forestland in the Northern Forest. The forests will be permanently protected from development and managed to ensure long-term production of wood products and protection of wildlife habitat and clean water.
The awards will support five projects in northern Maine, New Hampshire and New York. The five grants total $1.7 million and the loan is for $2.5 million, up to $1.5 million of which may be forgiven if certain conditions are met. The awards will support the acquisition of conservation easements on 188,000 acres of private forestland, and the purchase of 57,000 acres to create ecological reserves.
The awards represent the second round of funding from the Northern Forest Protection Fund (the Fund), a $12 million matching capital fund created by the Open Space Conservancy (OSC), the land acquisition affiliate of OSI. The Fund, which was made possible with grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Surdna Foundation, supports land trusts' efforts to permanently protect critical forest landscapes in northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.
This 26 million acre region, known as the Northern Forest, is the largest remaining undeveloped forest in the East. The first of its kind, the Fund was established in response to threats posed by forestland sales in the Northern Forest, totaling almost five million acres in the last three years. This rapid turnover in ownership presents a unique opportunity to protect the sweeping forest landscapes for sustainable forestry, wildlife, water quality and public access.
“Our second round of awards reflects the importance the Fund places on the contribution of permanently conserved, privately owned forests to the future of the region,” said Joe Martens, President of OSI. “Each of the projects we invested in met rigorous criteria for ensuring that healthy, sustainably-managed forests will be able to produce wood products long into the future while protecting basic ecological functions such as watershed and wildlife protection.”
Conserved lands are protected from future development through fee purchases and/or acquisition of conservation easements. Working forest conservation easements will protect the forestland from development, but allow the land to be retained in private hands for purposes of forestry, wildlife and water quality protection.
The largest commitment was to the Trust for Public Land, which in partnership with the State of New Hampshire, The Nature Conservancy New Hampshire Chapter and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, purchased 171,500 acres from International Paper (IP) in March 2002. Of this total, 25,000 acres will ultimately be owned and protected by the State of New Hampshire as ecological reserves or “natural areas,” and the remaining 146,500 acres that surround the reserves will be owned by Lyme Timber Company and subject to a working forest conservation easement held by the State. The $3 million commitment provides bridge financing to TPL until other sources of funds can be secured. Up to $1.5 million of the $2.5 million loan may be forgiven if TPL can meet fundraising goals and can develop state-of-the-art integrated forest management plans for the property.
“The Open Space Institute's extraordinary commitment helped us purchase the land from IP and now is setting the stage for the next critical phase—achieving our fundraising goal and ensuring that forest management plans for the contiguous state and privately-owned forests will work together to protect the exemplary natural resources of this landscape,” said David Houghton, TPL's New England Regional Director. “It is a unique role for a funder to play, and we're very grateful that they are.”
“This collaborative approach to forest planning is nothing short of groundbreaking for our eastern forests,” John Gordon, NFPF Advisory Board member and former Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies said. “The Trust for Public Land, Lyme Timber Company and the State are to be commended for embracing an integrated approach to developing forest management plans. Once completed, the plans will ensure a continuous flow of forest products off most of the land, while ensuring long-term protection of environmental values over the entire 171,500 acres.
The $500,000 grant to the Central and Western New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for the 45,000-acre Tug Hill Plateau Project will increase the amount of protected land on the plateau to 150,000 acres. The acquisition establishes over 14,000 acres of ecological reserves and will permanently protect over 30,000 acres of contiguous commercially owned and managed forestlands along Fish Creek, subject to a conservation easement held by the State of New York emphasizing sustainable forestry management.
“This biologically unique forest will protect the headwaters of 11 different rivers and streams,” Jim Howe, Deputy Director of the Central and Western TNC chapter said. “Support from the Fund provides a great boost to TNC's efforts to bring about improved forest management across the Plateau to protect these resources.”
The Open Space Institute is a non-profit organization that acquires significant recreational, environmental, agricultural and historic properties throughout New York State. Since its inception nearly 25 years ago, OSI's work has added to or created more than 30 parks and preserves and permanently protected more than 70,000 acres stretching from the Palisades to the Adirondacks.
NFPF AWARD DESCRIPTIONS, SPRING 2002
West Branch Project
The Forest Society of Maine (FSM) received a grant of $400,000 for the purchase of the 4,242-acre Big Spencer Mountain, which harbors an old-growth forest, and six miles of shorefront on Maine's Moosehead Lake. The purchase is the first phase of the 329,000-acre West Branch Project that will protect headwaters of the Penobscot and St. John Rivers. Contact: Alan Hutchinson, Forest Society of Maine, (207) 945-9200.
Western Maine High Mountain Project
The Appalachian Trail Conference received a grant of $100,000 for the purchase of approximately 6,400 acres on Mount Abraham and Saddleback Mountain in western Maine near the Rangely Lakes. The acquisition permanently protects sensitive mountain peaks, old growth forests, and a working forest. Popular hiking trails will also gain protection. The project is adjacent to or near over 51,000 acres of protected lands, including the Appalachian Trail. Contact: Robert Williams, Appalachian Trail Conference, (304) 535-6331
Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Project
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) received a $500,000 grant and $2.5 million loan totaling $3 million for the purchase of 171,500 acres of forestland in northern New Hampshire from International Paper Company. The land is the largest privately owned tract in the state. Twenty-five thousand acres will be designated as natural areas, which includes a 15,000 acre contiguous tract that allows the area to develop “old growth” and mature ecosystem conditions. The remaining 146,500 acres will be sold to Lyme Timber Co., of Lyme, NH, subject to a conservation easement. Up to $1.5 million of the $2.5 million loan may be forgiven if TPL can meet fundraising goals and can develop integrated forest management plans for the property. Contact: David Houghton, Trust for Public Land, (802) 223-1373
Lake Umbagog Project
The Trust for Public Land (TPL) received a grant of $200,000 for the purchase of 6,180 acres that has been added to the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, New Hampshire. The refuge, located on the New Hampshire-Maine border, is known for its aquatic resources, including an extensive network of wetlands that are critical for many species of birds. This is the first phase of the 16,664-acre project that will also include the protection of working forests around the refuge. Contact: David Houghton, Trust for Public Land, (802) 223-1373
Tug Hill Plateau Project
The Central and Western New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) received a grant of $500,000 for the purchase of 45,000 acres on the Tug Hill Plateau in northwestern New York. The project will protect a biologically unique and relatively roadless forestland at the western end of the Northern Forest. The acquisition establishes ecological reserve on over 14,000 acres and will permanently protect over 30,000 acres of commercially owned forestland through a sustainable forestry conservation easement. Contact: Jim Howe, The Nature Conservancy, (716) 546-8030 x 22