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New Hampshire forest connectivity and wildlife habitat to remain intact

WENTWORTH LOCATION, N.H. – April 2, 2013 – Utilizing the second of two grants it has received from the Open Space Institute, The Trust for Public Land (TPL), along with several partners, has completed the latest phase of a five-phase project that protects wildlife habitat and promotes connectivity in New Hampshire’s heavily forested North Country. 

The just-completed phase of the project also protects two of New Hampshire’s best native trout ponds—part of the 934-acre property at the Androscoggin River Headwaters that TPL bought for $2.475 million and then conveyed to the state of New Hampshire. 

The state will make the property open to the public for fishing and hunting. 

The property was purchased from Plum Creek as part of an overall effort to protect 31,000 acres of land in the Androscoggin Headwaters in the northern end of the state. “The goal is to ensure sustainable working timberlands, protect water quality and wildlife habitat, and expand access to public recreation lands—benefiting not only the local communities in northern New Hampshire, but the thousands of visitors to the region every year,” said Rodger Krussman, TPL’s New Hampshire director.

Today’s acquisition, supported by OSI’s Transborder Land Protection Fund, links a contiguous conservation area amounting to more than 100,000 acres that includes the Umbagog Refuge, 13-Mile Woods Community Forest, and state and easement lands around Maine’s Richardson Lake and Rapid River.

The Open Space Institute first supported TPL’s Androscoggin project in 2011 with a $500,000 grant from Saving New England’s Wildlife, a conservation initiative established with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation to fund habitat conservation projects. Overall, the Androscoggin effort has now forever protected over 8,300 acres of the most sensitive parts of the overall 31,000-acre project area for birds, wild brook trout and a number of threatened mammals. These lands will be held as publicly owned conservation land by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and New Hampshire Fish and Game.

“The benefits of TPL’s latest acquisition in this multi-phase project are many,” said Peter Howell,” OSI’s executive vice president. “OSI supported this project in the past for its wildlife habitat merits and today we’re supporting it again for the connectivity it fosters in an ecologically important region. When the final phase of this project has been completed, conservation will have taken a great step forward here in the Transborder region.”

Two Countries, One Forest and several other conservation organizations have recognized the Androscoggin project area for its key role as a wildlife linkage area. The northerly location, relative isolation, and topographical diversity of the project area may make it a uniquely valuable refuge for species displaced by climate change. 

The Open Space Institute’s Transborder Fund was established in 2009 with a lead grant from the Partridge Foundation to protect ecologically significant forested landscapes in the Northern Appalachian/Acadian eco-region, an 80 million acre region spanning the boundaries of the eastern United States and Canada.

The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, has been working with Plum Creek since 2007 in the Androscoggin region. The 934 acres acquired today will create a new Greenough Ponds State Wildlife Management Area. Earlier, 7,400 acres were purchased by the federal government for additions to the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. Still under discussion are another 23,000 acres of conservation easements that would preclude development but enable Plum Creek to continue sustainable timber management. 

Aside from OSI’s grants, the $2.475 million to pay for today’s land transaction came from a variety of other sources, including $650,000 from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program; $300,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Acres for America Program; $100,000 from the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation; and other public and private money. NH Fish and Game contributed $675,000 to the acquisition from the Department’s fisheries and wildlife habitat accounts and the Granite Reliable Power wind farm mitigation fund. 

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