OSI grant helps NH town preserve the gateway to the White Mountains

ALBANY, NH — January 30, 2012 — A grant from OSI’s Community Forest Fund played a vital role in the creation of a new town forest at the junction of two national scenic byways in the town of Albany, N.H.

With a $170,000 grant, OSI helped the 735-person town of Albany, the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust and The Trust for Public Land conserve a 310-acre tract that will become the Albany Town Forest. The acquisition protects significant ecological and recreational values while preserving views of the nearby White Mountain National Forest, which attracts more than 6 million visitors annually.

“The establishment of a town forest is an innovative method for creating a revenue stream for the community while protecting its most valuable natural assets. The citizens of Albany will directly steward and benefit from the resources of their forest through productive forestry, water quality protection and conservation of wildlife habitat,” said Jennifer Melville, Open Space Institute. “It is a remarkable victory for this vibrant community.”

The property sits at the junction of two national scenic byways, the Kancamagus Scenic Byway and the White Mountain Trail, which together feed access to the eastern gateway to the White Mountain National Forest. In addition to providing revenue to the town through sustainable harvesting, the newly protected town forest contains important wildlife habitat, including floodplain forests that support migratory birds, globally imperiled Pine Barrens, and grasslands. More than a mile of access to the Swift River, a major Saco River tributary, provides connections to a top fishery and valuable fishing resource. The Albany Town Forest will also maintain fishing, hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling trails and access.

The project also sets aside 6.7 acres for use as a future Albany town center.

“Acquiring this property for a town forest is a rich investment both for Albany and for the region,” said Rodger Krussman, The Trust for Public Land’s New Hampshire state director. “Town forests are a strong model for sustaining jobs, town revenue, and tourism. Albany’s new town forest will enhance the local economy and support recreation and tourism, and The Trust for Public Land is pleased to have played our part in helping Albany achieve its goals.”

With substantial stands of northern hardwoods, red oak, hemlock, and white pine, the town of Albany now has a sustainable asset for investing in other community priorities, including the establishment of its new town center.

“We would like to thank the citizens of Albany for their continued support of this project. After 4 years of effort, the Town of Albany will have a 300-acre town forest to provide both open space, recreation and natural resources for the townspeople, area residents and visitors,” said Rob Nadler, Albany Land Governance Board. “The successful purchase would have not been possible without the help from the seller, the Kennett Company, whose continued patience and accommodation over 4 years of difficult fund raising has helped make this project a reality.”

In addition to the grant from OSI’s Community Forest Fund, support for the $800,000 acquisition included $250,000 from the federal Public Lands Highways Discretionary Program. U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) were strong supporters of the project, which has been underway since 2009. Additional funding included $149,000 from the Town of Albany, as approved by voters in March, 2010; $145,000 from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP); and funding from the New Hampshire Conservation Plate Program and private donors.

“This crucial tract of land serves as the gateway to the White Mountains for the 2 million people who drive on the Kancamagus Byway each year during their visits to the region. The acquisition will increase public access for recreation in Albany and protect important scenic views,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. “In addition to the significant impacts this project will have on outdoor recreation opportunities and the economic activity they generate in Albany, conserving the property will protect important wildlife habitat and water quality in the Swift River. This is great news for Albany and I offer my congratulations to the town and its partners: the New Hampshire Department of Transportation and The Trust for Public Land.”

“Often referred to as the ‘eastern gateway,’ an estimated 2 million visitors drive on the byways into the national forest each year,” said Sen. Ayotte. “These visitors not only enjoy the beautiful scenery but also are key contributors to the region's economy. This acquisition will expand public access to recreational resources while protecting scenic views.”

LCHIP is an independent state authority that makes matching grants to N.H. communities and non-profits to conserve and preserve New Hampshire’s most important natural, cultural and historic resources. Through this investment program every $1 in state investment brings back more than five times local, private, federal funds.

“LCHIP is delighted with the success of this project. We salute the vision and perseverance of the Town of Albany in conceiving of this acquisition and finally making it a reality with the help of carefully selected and skilled partners. In addition to the many ecological, economic, recreational and community benefits of the acquisition, the view across the open fields toward the Presidentials, one of the scenic treasures of the White Mountains, will now be protected forever. The investment of state dollars through LCHIP has had a truly significant impact,” said Dijit Taylor, LCHIP Executive Director.

A conservation easement for the majority of the property has been conveyed to the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust, which will manage the terms of the easement.

“As a Kennett High School student in the 1960s I ran and skied along the Swift River assuming that this beautiful forest would always be here. With 40 years hindsight it is particularly rewarding to see this assumption realized,” said Tom Earle, Upper Saco Valley Land Trust president. “Congratulations to the citizens of Albany for recognizing the promise that this property holds as a town forest, as a place of recreation, and as the gateway of our much loved Kancamagus Highway. Thank you to all who have contributed their time and finances to help realize this vital conservation achievement. The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust looks forward to a strong partnership with the Town of Albany in stewarding this forest for this and all the generations to come.”

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