Merrimack Conservation Partnership Announces 2017 Land Transaction Grant Awards

The Merrimack Conservation Partnership (MCP) announced the 2017 recipients of its third round of Land Conservation Grants, which help underwrite conservation projects that protect the ecologically important Merrimack Valley Watershed region of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In the latest grant round, the MCP awarded grants totaling $75,450 to seven projects that will conserve a total of approximately 647 acres of land. The total value of the land to be protected in the latest grant round is conservatively estimated at $1.1 million.

In 2010, the Merrimack was identified by the US Forest Service as the most threatened watershed in the nation in terms of projected loss of private forest land over the next 20 years. The two-state region of the Merrimack Watershed spans a total of 2.1 million acres and 3,275 square miles of which 54% is in NH and 46% in Massachusetts. The Merrimack River starts in Franklin, NH and flows through eight of NH’s largest cities, then continues into Massachusetts to its mouth at Newburyport.

Launched in 2012, the Merrimack Conservation Partnership is a collaborative effort of more than twenty private organizations and public agencies working on land conservation in the Merrimack Valley Watershed. The partners share a vision of conserving (on a strictly willing-seller/donor basis) the region’s most ecologically significant forests and the key connections between them for wildlife passage and human recreation.

The Merrimack Conservation Partnership Land Conservation Grants program underwrites transaction costs—appraisals, surveys, title research, staff time, etc.—on conservation transactions that protect land identified in the Merrimack Valley Regional Conservation Plan.

MVRCP_RegionMap11x17_rd3_2017

Below is a list of the grant recipients and a brief description of their projects:

Bloomfield Conservation Project, Epsom, NH

Applicant:  Bear-Paw Regional Greenways
Acres to be conserved:  84
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
MCP Grant Award: $6,667.00
Estimated Total Project Costs: $121,500

Bloomfield_Pic_0454 - Copy
Bear-Paw Regional Greenways is working with Epsom landowners Eric Bloomfield and Krista Stadnicki to protect nearly 84 acres of forest with a conservation easement. Bear-Paw will hold a conservation easement on the land, with the Town of Epsom holding an Executory Interest. Almost all of the property is ranked Tier 1 wildlife habitat (highest ranked in the state) according to the 2015 NH Wildlife Action Plan. The property is traversed east-west by Deer Brook as well as an unnamed stream, and a large wetland system covers most of the eastern part of the property.

 Clark Farm Conservation Project, Epsom, NH

Applicant:  Bear-Paw Regional Greenways
Acres to be conserved:  24
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
MCP Grant Award: $6,667.00
Estimated Total Project Costs: $40,500

IMG_0316
Bear-Paw Regional Greenways is working with Sarah Harkness Nelson and the Town of Epsom to preserve the historic 23-acre Clark Farm in Epsom, NH. The landowner recognizes the ecological and cultural value of her land and has agreed to donate the value of the conservation easement. The Clark Farm is one of the few remaining undeveloped farm fields in this rapidly developing region of New Hampshire. The soil is 100% prime farmland soil, meaning the site is extremely productive for farming but could also be a target for development. The land will remain privately owned and available for agriculture, with Bear-Paw holding the conservation easement and the Town of Epsom holding an Executory Interest. The property is entirely located within a Merrimack Valley Regional Conservation Plan Conservation Focus Area and is ranked as Tier 2 wildlife habitat (highest ranked in the biological region) according to the 2015 NH Wildlife Action Plan.

Fowler Conservation Project, Candia, NH

Applicant:  Bear-Paw Regional Greenways
Acres to be conserved:  34
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
MCP Grant Award: $6,666.00
Estimated Total Project Costs: $15,800

IMG_0445
The Town of Candia and Bear-Paw Regional Greenways are working with Ed and Ruth Fowler to protect 34 acres of forest and agricultural land with a conservation easement. Bear-Paw already holds a conservation easement on 63 acres owned by the Fowlers; this project will ensure that nearly all of the Fowlers’ land is protected. This project will permanently protect 34 acres of hemlock-hardwood-pine forest and agricultural land with a conservation easement. The parcel is crossed by Murray Mill Brook, which flows to Lake Massabesic, and the intact forest contributes to the health of both Lake Massabesic and the Merrimack River. The landowners’ house and barn are located on Chester Road and will be excluded from the conservation easement but tied to the rest of the property with a deed restriction. The easement will encumber the entire forested portion of the property as well as a 5-acre farmland and the Murray Brook corridor.

 Spaulding Forest, Chichester, NH

Applicant:  Five Rivers Conservation Trust
Acres to be conserved:  119
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
MCP Grant Award: $11,500
Total Project Costs: $23,000

1 Spaulding Town Forest - hardwood forest photo
This project will place a permanent conservation easement on 119 acres of productive forest, outstanding wildlife habitat, and outdoor public recreation land. The forest has been managed under the guidance of a consulting forester. The property is entirely in Tier 2 of the MCP target area and Tier 1 of the NH Fish and Game WAP. This property abuts the Humphrey Easement (141 acres) protected by the Society for the

Protection of NH Forests, and is near the Drinon Easement (149 acres) protected by the Town of Chichester. This area is part of a very large undeveloped and unfragmented open space area. This property and surrounding area is identified as highest priority for conservation by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan and is entirely within Tier 2 of the MCP Regional Conservation Plan. This easement will guarantee public access., so the property is open to the public for traditional outdoor recreation, including hunting. There is a major snowmobile corridor which traverses the property. Five Rivers Conservation Trust will hold the easement and perform perpetual annual monitoring and enforcement as needed. The Town of Chichester will hold the fee interest (ownership) of the property.

Stillhouse Forest, Canterbury & Northfield, NH

Applicant:  Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
Acres to be conserved:  234
Protection Method:  Land Purchase
MCP Grant Award: $8,250
Total Project Costs: $276,438

frotage_pano - Copy
The Forest Society has an opportunity to protect a 234-acre property in Canterbury and Northfield that has more than 5,600 feet of frontage on the Merrimack River. The Forest Society intends to purchase the property outright and manage it as one of their Forest Reservations. This project sits directly across the Merrimack River from the Merrimack County Farm and the State Forest Nursery in Boscawen. The Property is highly visible to travelers utilizing the Merrimack River. Protecting this property would ensure the public could use it for passive recreation. Wildlife habitat is excellent; with approximately 25% of the property categorized within NH Fish & Game’s Wildlife Action Plan as “Tier 1, best wildlife habitat in the state”, and 35% of the land is “Tier II, or best wildlife habitat in the region.” The Forest Society believes that this project will be the catalyst for other abutting tracts to be permanently protected. The Forest Society intends to keep public access to Stillhouse Forest open, the same as they do for all Forest Reservations. The property will be available to the public for hiking, bird watching, hunting, fishing, and other passive recreational activities.

Proctor Project, Lyndeborough, NH

Applicant:  Piscataquog Land Conservancy
Acres to be conserved:  92
Protection Method:  Land Purchase
MCP Grant Award: $20,000
Total Project Costs: $295,900

8 PLC Proctor Photo - Wetlands Lot 206-3 - Copy
The purchase includes 2 tracts and will protect more than 4,000 feet of Cold and Scataquog Brooks, the latter with native trout populations, so NHF&G is enthusiastic to participate. On the 69-acre tract, Cold Brook crosses through open pasture, where cattle have been fenced into the brook for years. With the reestablishment of vegetation along the streambank, it is possible that the native trout downstream in Scataquog Brook will repopulate Cold Brook due to lowered water temperatures. The project expands existing PLC, SPNHF, and NHF&G conservation lands and includes 4,820 ft. of streams. A stratified aquifer underlies 19 acres. NHWAP designates 95% of the property as Tier 1 & 2 and as a priority for wildlife connectivity. Partners include Lyndeborough Conservation Commission, NHF&G, LCHIP, and SCC. Public access is for all passive recreation, including hunting and fishing.

Smith Property, Littleton & Harvard, MA

Applicant:  Sudbury Valley Trustees
Acres to be conserved:  61
Protection Method:  Land Purchase
MCP Grant Award: $15,700
Total Project Costs: $180,800

Sudbury_Smith_wetland
Sudbury Valley Trustees (SVT) has the opportunity to purchase in fee this 49-acre spectacular wildlife habitat. The Smith Property is a 49-acre property that straddles Harvard and Littleton and abuts Black Pond to the west and Beaver Brook to the east. The property, which is entirely designated as a BioMap 2 Core Habitat, provides vital habitat for four Species of Conservation Concern, as determined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: blue-spotted salamander, four-toed salamander, Blanding’s Turtle, and Eastern Box Turtle. It is also designated as BioMap2 Critical Natural Landscape for a Landscape Block, an area that will remain resilient in the face of climate change because of its ability to buffer hazards, provide connectivity for wide-ranging species, allow for natural disturbances that are needed to sustain certain species, and ensure the protection of existing water resources. It is used by a variety of these species, including black bear, deer, coyote, fisher, turkey, while also providing habitat for rare species. In an area in which natural lands are fragmented by development, wildlife needs corridors connecting larger blocks of conservation land to keep populations healthy and genetically diverse. Such a corridor is critical to ecosystem health, allowing wildlife to move safely through the landscape, and allowing plants and animals to adapt and relocate as the climate changes. Currently, the property is privately owned with a Conservation Restriction over it held by the Littleton Conservation Trust (LCT). With this purchase in Fee, SVT will be able to manage the habitat and also manage a trails system on the property. LCT will continue to annually monitor the property while SVT engages in the active management.

For more information about the MCP Partnership, please contact Brian Hotz at (603) 224-9945 or bhotz@forestsociety.org. Information is also available at http://merrimackconservationpartnership.org

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s