Northern Forest Protection Fund awarded grants to expand land protection program

NEW YORK, NY - January 24, 2005 - The Open Space Conservancy, the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute, has been awarded $1.65 million in grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Jane's Trust. The announcements were recently announced. 

Both grants will be used to augment OSI's Northern Forest Protection Fund, which makes grants and loans to conservation organizations to buy critical forestland in four Northeastern states. “This land protection grant continues the Foundation's support for increasing conservation activity in key geographic areas of the country,” said Dr. Mark Shaffer, DDCF Program Director for the Environment. The grant to OSI was one of three DDCF grants totaling $6 million for land conservation activities throughout the United States. 

“The Open Space Institute is grateful to the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's generous support. This grant --added to the $3 million remaining in the Fund--will enable the Open Space Institute to continue supporting conservation of the most critical remaining habitat for wildlife of the Northern Forest,” said Kim Elliman, CEO of the Open Space Institute. “We also deeply appreciate of the support of Jane's Trust. We are honored to earn the support of this leading new foundation,” added Elliman. 

The Northern Forest Protection Fund was established in 2000 with support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation. The Fund leverages capital funding assistance from public agencies and other private groups by providing matching loans and grants. Since its inception, the Fund has worked with partners to protect more than 1 million acres through $12.5 million in grants and loans. “In a little over four years, the Fund has leveraged $200 million dollars, close to $16 dollars for every $1 dollar we put in,” said Elliman. 

The Fund is the flagship of the Open Space Institute's new Conservation Finance Program (CFP), which provides low-cost loans and grants to land trusts for land purchases in selected regions of the eastern United States, and shares information more broadly about promising financing and management techniques. The Open Space Institute, which has been protecting land in the Hudson River Valley for more than thirty years, launched the CFP to complement and build upon its traditional land acquisition work. “Based on our knowledge and experience in New York, we have sought to act as an 'honest broker,' helping to provide scarce grant and loan capital to the most worthy transactions being spearheaded by other organizations,” continued Elliman. 

The Northern Forest is the largest remaining expanse of unbroken forestland east of the Mississippi River. Spanning some 26 million acres across northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, the region's pristine woods, rivers and lakes provide prime wildlife habitat, thousands of forest-based jobs and recreational opportunities for an estimated 10 million visitors annually. The vast and unfragmented forest provides habitat for large mammals like lynx, moose and black bears, while also serving the habitat needs of many species of migratory birds. 

According to Peter Howell, Director of OSI's Conservation Finance Program, which encompasses the Northern Forest Protection Fund and the New Jersey Conservation Loan Program, the extraordinary natural resources of the Northern Forest continue to be threatened by the large-scale divestiture of timberland that is fragmenting the landscapes, resulting in inappropriate forestry in some places and development in others. “Large timberland owners are continuing to sell large tracts of land in the region,” said Howell. “By making grants to land trusts and conservation groups, the Fund will help create a system of stable, well-managed commercial forests and ecological reserves that will sustain local communities as well as wildlife,” said Howell. 

Of the $1.5 million Duke grant, $1 million will be added as capital to the Northern Forest Protection Fund. The remainder will be used to administer the Fund, and to support efforts to develop and improve conservation plans in the region; research and implement promising partnerships with private investors; and research and develop public finance measures at the state and federal level. Partners to date include the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Nature Conservancy. The Northern Forest Protection Fund will use the $150,000 grant from Jane's Trust for land acquisitions in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. 

Since 2000, OSI has made 13 grants and loans in the Northern Forest to protect large swaths of Maine wilderness, including the Kathadin Forest near Baxter State Park, the Western Mountains and Downeast Lake region; the Connecticut River headwaters in New Hampshire; and Tug Hill and the Sable Highlands, both in northern New York. 

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Mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation 
The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people's lives through grants supporting wildlife conservation. Its key initiatives include identifying critical lands, implementing land protection and building knowledge. The DDCF's activities are guided by the will of Doris Duke, who endowed the foundation with financial assets that totaled approximately $1.5 billion as of December 2003. 

Mission of Jane's Trust 
Jane's Trust was created through the beneficence of Jane B. Cook, who died in July 2002. 

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