Saving New England’s Wildlife, a $5 million capital fund that the Open Space Institute administered was launched in 2009 with the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. As of December 2011, the Fund has regranted all $5 million to protect over 20,000 acres of critical wildlife habitat in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts valued at over $50 million.
The 30 land conservation projects funded through the initiative speak to the tremendous richness and biological diversity of this region – from estuarine wetlands to a diversity of forest types, from vernal pools to river headwaters. These projects have conserved habitat for imperiled species such as timber rattlesnake, bog turtle, and New England Cottontail, as well as for wide ranging mammals such as moose, lynx and black bear and for migratory birds including American Black Duck, Common Eider, Osprey, Great Blue Heron, and Semi-Palmated Plover.
From parcels that have provided invaluable linkages to existing open space to the creation of new refuges, we have focused on key areas that contain the region’s highest diversity of habitat and –are more likely to continue to harbor a wide range of wildlife as the climate changes.
Strategically, land trusts have used Fund grants to generate and solidify support for projects of high ecological significance, drawing scarce public and private funds to the topmost priority transactions towards protecting habitat. Significantly, these projects have attracted over $12 million of additional philanthropic capital, $16 million in Federal grants, $13 million in state funding and over $3 million in local support.
Beyond the acres protected and matching funds leveraged, Saving New England’s Wildlife contributed to the awareness of and commitment to conservation of wildlife habitat. It has assisted conservation organizations from local land trusts to national organizations and helped states realize significant habitat protection goals.
At a time of reduced funding for conservation, the success of this initiative is a testament to the vision, commitment of tenacity of these public and nonprofit agencies.
The success of Saving New England’s Wildlife Fund will inform future initiatives, using the best scientific information to refine conservation strategies and to ensure the protection of the best lands most essential to diversity.