OSI's Northern Forest Protection Fund Helps Land Trusts Protect Moose Mountain in New Hampshire
NEW YORK, NY - November 10, 2005 - Today the Open Space Institute and its partners, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, announced the recent award of a $1 million loan from the Open Space Conservancy, an affiliate of the Open Space Institute, Inc. This loan, along with other interim financing, has enabled the Forest Society to proceed with the purchase of the 2,189-acre Moose Mountains property in Brookfield and Middleton, N.H.
“We are so grateful to the Open Space Institute for making it possible for us to step forward and purchase this land in advance of completing our fundraising. The landowners had been very generous in extending the purchase deadline from August, and we are now within reach of our fundraising goal,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society.
“We were very pleased to have a role in this critical and time sensitive transaction. Protecting the valleys and ridges of the Moose Mountains is a natural extension of our strategy for the Northern Forest,” said Peter Howell, director of conservation finance for the Open Space Institute, which has made loans and grants to protect 1.4 million acres of forestland in Northern New England. “This is an exemplary project spearheaded by a pair of exemplary conservation organizations.”
The Moose Mountains Conservation Project is a collaborative effort between the Forest Society and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways to conserve a spectacular 2,189-acre property that spans three ridges and the intervening valleys. Combined with the state-owned Jones Brook Wildlife Management Area and the Middleton Town Forest, a block of nearly 4,000 acres of contiguous forestland will be protected forever. This working forest also includes headwater streams and the most pristine segments of the upper Piscataqua and Great Bay watersheds, making it an important area for water quality in the Seacoast.
But the land isn't protected yet. Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and the Forest Society have received gifts from more than 600 people and organizations. The two groups must raise $400,000 from private sources in order to complete the project.
“Members of this community have stepped forward in ways we never imagined and we are so grateful!” said Cynthia Wyatt, chair of Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. “We are in the final stretch with just $60,000 left go if anybody has been waiting to make their gift, now is the time!”
Senator Judd Gregg also announced that a $1 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP), which will cover $1 million of the $2.4 million purchase price of the Moose Mountains Project, passed a key milestone this week when it was included in the House-Senate conference agreement on the appropriations bill that includes funding for NOAA programs. The appropriations bill is expected to go to the full House and Senate for approval later this month. Senator Gregg, Senator John Sununu, and Congressman Jeb Bradley also helped secure a separate grant from the USDA Forest Legacy program to support the State of New Hampshire's purchase of a conservation easement that assures permanent protection and sustainable management of the property.
“The protection of Moose Mountain's environment is critical to the health of the Seacoast, and I am pleased that we have been able to again secure much needed funds to continue to protect areas in New Hampshire that families will be able to enjoy for generations to come,” said Senator Gregg.
"It is no exaggeration to say the project would have been impossible without the support of Senator Gregg and the rest of our congressional delegation,” said Difley. “This is a huge step forward in protecting this remarkable place forever."
The final funding needed, which will support land acquisition, a stewardship endowment, and the project costs, will need to come from private donors. With just $60,000 to go, the Forest Society is cautiously optimistic that the project is within reach. “The Forest Society has moved forward with the help of loans from organizations like the Open Space Conservancy in order to secure this magnificent land but, we need to finish the job in order to repay our loans in a timely way and assure that the property is forever conserved,” adds Difley. Assuming success, the Moose Mountains property will become the Forest Society's newest Forest Reservation.
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, (www.forestsociety.org), was founded in 1901 to protect the state's most important landscapes and promote the wise use of its renewable natural resources. Today, the Forest Society owns 145 reservations that encompass over 41,000 acres in 90 communities across the state. In addition, the Forest Society holds more than 600 conservation easements over 90,000 acres, and conducts ongoing programs in research, advocacy, land protection, education, land management, and sustainable forestry.
The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, special loan programs, and creative partnerships. OSI has protected more than 90,000 acres in New York State. Through its Conservation Loan Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of 1.4 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, (www.mmrg.info), works in the communities of Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, and Wakefield with the mission of identifying and protecting important natural resource areas, including water resources, farm and forest lands, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, cultural and scenic areas; educating others about these areas; and joining together protected lands to form greenways.
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Photo by Geoff Jones