1,200 feet of frontage protected along the Merrimack River
CANTERBURY, N.H. (January 11, 2022) —The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) is excited to announce an addition of nearly 74 acres to the Stillhouse Forest Reservation in Canterbury and Northfield. This important acquisition adds 1,200 feet of undeveloped frontage along the Merrimack River, over 2 miles of intermittent streams, and 8 acres of wetlands that are integral to the aquatic resources found on the existing Stillhouse Forest Reservation.
The property is within the conservation focus area of the Merrimack Conservation Partnership’s Conservation Plan. In 2010, a U.S. Forest Service report identified the Merrimack River as the most threatened watershed in the nation in terms of projected loss of private forestland over the next 20 years. The report stirred the Forest Society and over 23 other groups and state agencies to form the Merrimack Conservation Partnership, which focuses on the protection of the Merrimack River.
“The Merrimack River’s dire designation in 2010 as a watershed at risk made it abundantly clear that the development of forestland in the watershed is a danger to the river’s water quality and quantity,” states Jack Savage, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “Hundreds of thousands of people rely on the Merrimack River for their drinking water. We’re proud that the Stillhouse Forest addition represents the 12th project in a series of projects that protect shoreline along the river.”
In 2020, the Forest Society released a documentary, “The Merrimack: River at Risk,” highlighting the urgency the region faces in the fight to protect the Merrimack River watershed.
The Stillhouse Forest property has an intact forested riverine buffer and portions of a rich floodplain forest. Otter and mink dens, bank beaver lodges, along with fresh mink, otter, beaver, raccoon, deer, and bear tracks have been observed on the land. The inland portion of the property contains harvested Appalachian Oak-Pine Forest that is seeing strong pine regeneration. The New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau lists several threatened and endangered species on or near the property as well.
The Stillhouse Forest falls within the Wellhead Protection Area of the Penacook-Boscawen Water Precinct’s three drinking water wells. Protecting the property helps to advance the Town of Northfield’s 2014 Master Plan vision that the shorelines of the Merrimack River will largely be free from development and accessible to the public.Federal, state, and private donors came together to help conserve the new 74-acre addition, including the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the State of New Hampshire’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund (ARM) and the Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund (GWDWWTF), the Fields Pond Foundation, the Merrimack Conservation Partnership, and more than 100 private donors.