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Nation’s Highest-Priority Community Forest Is First Project Completed by Relaunched OSI Community Forest Program

Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

MEREDITH, NH (Oct. 25, 2017)—Land adjacent to a popular Community Forest in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region has been protected in the face of development, thanks to support from the Open Space Institute (OSI) and other public and private partners. Ranked as the nation’s highest-priority Community Forest project by the U.S. Forest Service, this project is the first to be completed since OSI relaunched its Community Forest Fund this spring. 

This new project, led by the Trust for Public Land (TPL), adds 198 acres to the existing 567-acre “Page Pond Community Forest,” created in 2010. The expansive property is not only a popular retreat for outdoor recreation, but also protects productive forests and wetlands, streams, and surface water flowing into Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire’s largest lake. 

“Thanks to the further protection of Page Pond Community Forest, the residents of Meredith can look forward to economic benefits from this new land, not to mention the community benefits from recreation, permanent public access and improved quality of life,” said Jennifer Melville, who oversees OSI’s Community Forest Program. “We congratulate the citizens of Meredith for their vision and determination to establish and then expand a model Community Forest for current and future generations.” 

 OSI’s Community Forest Fund helps communities across northern New England permanently conserve and manage forests to benefit directly from the land’s many economic, recreational, and environmental values. Community Forests help towns boost their local economies, protect drinking water and productive forests, and provide outdoor recreation and education to citizens and visitors. Local communities play a key role in forest management and decision making on their Community Forests. 

Two young residents of Meredith, NH, visit the town's newly-protected addition to Page Pond Community Forest.
Two young residents of Meredith, NH, visit the town's newly-protected addition to Page Pond Community Forest.
Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman

Since its inception in 2010, OSI’s Community Forest Program has helped towns conserve 16 Community Forests, investing $1.7 million in local communities across northern New England. As well as funding the Page Pond project, the renewed Fund recently provided support grants to jumpstart projects in Williston and Richmond, VT, and Bethel, ME. OSI’s assistance will enable these towns and their land trust partners to build citizen support and move forward with new Community Forest projects. 

Today, OSI continues to seek donations to further build the fund to catalyze community conservation and ensure that rural communities can benefit directly from their forestland resources. 

In the case of the Page Pond project, the need to protect the 198-acre property was fueled by its proximity to Lake Winnipesaukee, which makes it a prime target for development. While the rural character of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is important for attracting tourists and supporting the economy, increased development in the region could seriously threaten key habitat, water quality and public access. 

In addition to OSI, other donors included the USFS Community Forest Program and Open Space Grant Program, three agencies of the State of New Hampshire [the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the Department of Environmental Services (DES), and the State Conservation Committee (SCC)], the Town of Meredith, and hundreds of private individuals. 

“We are very appreciative of U.S.Forest Service, LCHIP, DES, SCC, and OSI’s generous support and investment in securing such a special community asset,” said J.T. Horn, TPL’s Senior Project Manager. “These grants will enable the Town of Meredith to protect critical wetlands and wildlife habitat while also opening the property for new trails and recreation. The community of Meredith has worked tirelessly to establish this forest and we are proud to partner with them.”

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