Three Major State Grants Boost Effort to Conserve Hazelton Farm near Newfound Lake

December 3, 2012

Concord, Dec. 4, 2012 — The Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests’ three-year effort to conserve the 270-acre Hazelton Farm and Forest in Hebron got a big boost from three major state grants recently.

The grants include $100,000 from the Aquatic Resources Mitigation (ARM) program of the N.H. Dept. of Environmental Services (DES), $50,000 from the Land and Community Heritage

Investment Program (LCHIP) and $25,000 from the State Conservation Committee (which allocates funds from “moose license plate” sales).

The Forest Society is raising money through grants and private donations to purchase a conservation easement on the Hazelton Farm, a well-known local landmark featuring extensive frontage along the Cockermouth River and Wise Brook, as well as hay fields and forested hillsides on Tenney and Crosby mountains. Conserving this land will protect water quality in the Newfound watershed.

The three grants propel the fundraising effort close to its goal of $315,000.

“We are now in the final stretch of fundraising. The project is definitely going forward and we plan to complete the fundraising this month,” said Martha Twombly, capital campaign specialist for the Forest Society.

Under the conservation easement, the Hazelton family will continue to own and farm the property, which will be protected from future development while remaining open to the public for recreational uses.

The ARM program is funded through mitigation payments made to DES by development projects that have impacted wetlands and aquatic resources. Successful grant applicants show that a project will replace or protect wetland functions and values similar to those that were lost through the projects that paid into the fund. For the Pemigewassett River watershed, several projects provided funding into ARM including the Groton Wind Farm development.

"The Hazelton Farm project is a great example where important aquatic resources that provide wildlife and fish habitat will be protected,” said Lori Sommer, DES mitigation coordinator. “The conservation of the fields, streams and forests on the property compensates for the lost functions impacted in the watershed. The project provides protection to the Cockermouth River and Wise Brook, which are an important links in protecting land at the north end of Newfound Lake, ultimately helping to preserve the pristine water quality in the lake."

The Hazelton Farm project was one of 18 supported by the current round of LCHIP grants that totaled $500,000. LCHIP is an independent state authority that provides matching grants to New Hampshire communities and non-profits to protect and preserve the state’s most important natural, cultural and historic resources. Its legislatively mandated mission is to ensure the perpetual contribution of these resources to the economy, environment and the quality of life in New Hampshire.

The grant from the State Conservation Committee was one of 15 awarded to municipalities and conservation organizations that shared $299,532 in proceeds from conservation license plate sales. The State Conservation Committee’s annual competitive grant program provides funds to projects that result in the improvement of water quality, protection of wildlife habitat, prevention of erosion and flooding, implementation of best management practices, conservation planning, and the permanent protection of conservation land.

“I say a silent ‘thank you’ every time I see a car with a Moose license plate!,” Twombly said. “These funds actively support many of our conservation projects, which in turn protect New Hampshire’s most important resources and special places such as the Hazelton Farm.”

Other Hazelton Farm project grants include $50,000 from the N.H. Fish and Game Dept. and $30,000 from the John Gemmill Newfound Fund.

Private donations from organizations and individuals have shown a broad base of support for the project.

“We’ve been thrilled with the outpouring of support,” Twombly said. “We have more than 300 donors from all the watershed towns and beyond, including the Hebron Conservation Commission, the local Trout Unlimited, Camp Pasquaney and the girls of Camp Onaway and so many others. It’s a high tourism area and a lot of our second-home owners responded.”

The project emerged three years ago from the local work of the Newfound Land Conservation Partnership’s (NLCP) Land and Watershed committee, a subcommittee of the Newfound Lake Region Association. Made up of members from Newfound towns, and including representatives of the Society for the Protection of NH Forests and the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, the committee sponsors local workshops and events to introduce landowners to land conservation options for water and wildlife resource values, estate planning, and for keeping lands in family ownership. The Hazelton Farm is the sixth property that has been conserved through the Land and Watershed Committee’s efforts in the Newfound watershed since December 2011.

“There are numerous regional conservation plans, and this project just lit up on all of them,” Twombly said. Those plans include the N.H. Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan, the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture, the Lakes Region Conservation Plan, the Quabbin to Cardigan Regional Plan and the Newfound Lake Region Association’s master plan.