Dec. 11, 2014 – A 150-acre bastion of excellent wildlife habitat and scenic woodlands in Middleton is much closer to being conserved now that the state's Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) has granted $112,500 to the effort to protect it from development.
The Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society), in partnership with the Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG), is raising $361,000 to buy the land in order to keep it undeveloped and open for recreation, wildlife habitat and forest management. The grant brings the effort past the half-way mark, with $173,000 yet to be raised.
“We are grateful that the LCHIP committee has thrown its critical support behind protecting this property. Since it abuts other conservation land with extensive trail systems, its addition will increase recreational access while keeping the working forests and wildlife protected from future development,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.
The LCHIP committee named the Moose Mountains project last week among 35 others to win a matching grant. LCHIP is the state program that provides grants to communities and non-profits to conserve and preserve New Hampshire's most important natural, cultural and historic resources.
The Moose Mountains property is located off New Portsmouth Road in Middleton. Once purchased, it will become part of the Forest Society’s Moose Mountains Reservation, a 2,325 acre area in both Middleton and Brookfield that is popular with hikers, hunters, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. Adjacent to the 1,400-acre Ellis R. Hatch Jr. Wildlife Management Area owned by N.H. Fish and Game, the Moose Mountains Reservation was first protected in 2008 through the efforts of the Forest Society, MMRG and other conservation partners.
“This project is a great opportunity for us to provide more open land for roaming wildlife like moose, bear and bobcats to securely cross an undeveloped landscape,” said Brian Hotz, vice president of land conservation for the Forest Society. “That benefit, plus the access this property provides to trails and timber, makes this project really exciting.”
“It is great to again partner with the Forest Society on a project in the Moose Mountains. We are happy to do all we can to help raise the needed funds to add this beautiful tract to the Reservation,” added Keith Fletcher, director of land conservation for MMRG.
Dominated by white pine and red oak as well as other hardwoods of a variety of age and size, the addition will provide timber resources as well as habitat diversity. Vernal pools on the property are critical breeding habitats for amphibian species, and the land is part of the headwaters of the Branch River and Jones Brook, both of which drain into aquifers supplying public drinking water.
Individual donors provided $75,000 to launch the campaign earlier this year. With the $112,500 grant from LCHIP, the effort is within $173,000 of its fundraising goal. Anyone interested in finding out more about this project or donating can visit forestsociety.org or call Martha Twombly at 224-9945, ext. 319.