March 25, 2010 - Grants from OSI’s Saving New England’s Wildlife program helped two northeast land trusts complete acquisitions recently that protected more than 700 acres of wildlife habitat.
In New Hampshire, the Hooksett Conservation Commission and Bear-Paw Regional Greenways completed the first phase of a project that will conserve high value wildlife habitat and protect public access in the Clay Pond Headwaters area near the Hooksett/Candia town line.
The Clay Pond Headwaters project area includes some of the most ecologically significant natural lands in New Hampshire, boasting a wide variety of upland, wetland, and riparian habitats. Much of the area has been identified as some of the highest-ranked wildlife habitat in the state, with records of several rare and endangered species living there.
The Clay Pond headwaters project area also lies entirely within the Lake Massabesic watershed—the public drinking water supply for nearly 160,000 people in the greater Manchester area.
The unfragmented forest block that includes the Clay Pond headwaters project area is one of the largest remaining in southeastern New Hampshire—more than 18,000 acres in extent. Large, unfragmented forest ecosystems like this offer vital support to the region’s biodiversity and provide resiliency against climate change. Wildlife such as moose, bobcat, and bear depend on these large areas of habitat to survive, and some bird species, including goshawk and veery, depend on the interior forest habitats to breed.
Conservating the project area will help maintain connections between other areas of significant conservation and ecological value that are already protected or managed for public drinking water supply protection. The project area abuts both Bear Brook State Park and the Manchester Water Works properties—providing a direct link between them and affording wildlife the possibility of moving from one habitat to another.
The Saco Valley Land Trust (SVLT) with the assistance of Maine Coast Heritage Trust recently purchased a conservation easement on the 168-acre Cranberry Marsh North property located in the city of Biddeford in southern Maine.
The Cranberry Marsh North property lies in a 1,350-acre undeveloped habitat block that is considered an area of ecological importance because of its proximity to an unusually large unbroken habitat area, and for the presence of vernal pools, which support threatened spotted turtles and endangered Blanding’s turtles.
The conservation easement placed on this land will eliminate future development, preserve trails and permit tree harvesting. The preservation of Cranberry Marsh North will help to ensure the economic viability of Shady Brook Farm by allowing appropriate tree harvest.The Shady Brook operation produces vegetables and lies within two miles of Biddeford. It is the last commercial farm of its size and type in the area.
The SVLT intends the conservation of the Cranberry Marsh North property to be the beginning of an effort to conserve large portions of contiguous vernal pool habitat in Biddeford.
Since its launch in September 2009, OSI has distributed almost $1.3 million in grants through Saving New England’s Wildlife, assisting in the protection of more than 6,600 acres in Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The program, which is supported by a $5 million grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, was created to help conservation groups protect high-priority wildlife habitat in the three New England states.