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New Hampshire farm, forest connectivity and wildlife habitat preserved forever

CONCORD, NH – Sept. 16, 2014 – For the good of wildlife, working forests, productive farmland, and public access for fishing, hunting and other low-impact recreation, the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests has purchased conservation easements on two parcels of land belonging to Roy and Laurel Amey in Pittsburg’s Indian Stream Valley.

The project was completed with  a grant from the Open Space Institute’s Transborder Land Protection Fund.

One easement covers 262 acres of the Amey family’s Maple Ridge Farm, known locally for the Ameys’ community involvement and “A Day at the Farm” events during the North Country’s annual Moose Festival. The farm straddles Tabor Road and includes two-thirds of a mile along Indian Stream, an important native eastern brook trout fishery that is a focus area for habitat protection and restoration efforts led by Trout Unlimited. The farm also features managed woodlands punctuated by vernal pools and lush hay fields where endangered northern harriers (marsh hawk) are known to hunt.

The other easement covers seven acres of hay lands and wetlands, and runs about 2,000 feet along both Indian Stream and the Connecticut River to their junction just south of Rt. 3. Both easements guarantee public pedestrian access and permanent protection from development while retaining the Ameys’ ownership of the land.

Partners who provided funding to purchase the easements include the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the Open Space Institute’s Transborder Fund, the Russell Farm and Forest Conservation Foundation, the Hunt Foundation, three local chapters and the statewide N.H. Council of Trout Unlimited, and private contributors.

“This project was exceptional in the way it brought so many conservation partners together with far-sighted landowners to protect this special place where Indian Stream flows into the Connecticut River,” said Jane Difley, Forest Society president/forester. “The Connecticut River watershed has long been an important focus area for conservation, and these pieces are spectacular additions to the network of conserved lands in this region.”

The conservation of this land adds to the growing mosaic of protected lands in the area, including the 171,000-acre Connecticut Lakes Headwaters tract conserved by a statewide coalition in 2003. That easement protects Indian Stream north of the Amey land. Other nearby blocks have been added since then, including the Forest Society’s Washburn Family Forest, directly across the Connecticut from the Amey easements. Roy Amey’s brother John Amey has also conserved the farm and forestland his family owns south of Maple Ridge Farm. The conservation of land across the border in Canada, including the 13,000 Mount Hereford Forest, further strengthens this region’s ecological importance.

“Maple Ridge Farm is a key piece within the larger connected landscape,” said Jennifer Melville, vice president of grants and loans with the Open Space Institute (OSI). The institute’s Transborder Fund supports projects that help to create protected corridors across international boundaries that will enable wildlife to move across the landscape, adapt and survive as the climate changes.
“Wildlife species don’t care about boundaries. Preliminary science and mapping supports conserving this area for species such as lynx, bobcat, American marten, showshoe hare, bear and moose, in the face of climate change,” Melville said.

Both Roy and Laurel grew up in the Indian Stream Valley and have deep farming roots there. Their motivation for conserving the land, though, has more to do with looking ahead than looking back. They are the parents of four children and the grandparents of six, and they enjoy opening their farm to kids in the community to share with them a connection to and love for the land.

“I decided a long time ago I was just a steward of this land and I wanted to take the best care of the land and buildings I could for the next generation,” Roy Amey said.
Taking the best care includes the conservation easements, which will ensure that the land stays intact and undeveloped forever, and will continue to provide access for fishing, hunting, walking and other low-impact recreation to the community. “As you get older you see what’s been destroyed, developed, changed,” Amey said. “I want this place to stay beautiful.”

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