More than 1,000 acres protect bat habitat, working forest
LYMAN, N.H., Oct. 27, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Critically important bat habitat and a significant portion of Gardner Ridge, the scenic backdrop for New Hampshire's Town of Lyman, have been conserved, Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust and The Trust for Public Land announced. The conservation of 1,081 acres on Gardner Mountain includes an easement, supports timber management, protects important habitat, and guarantees public access, while restricting development not related to agriculture or forestry.
This property has been operated as a commercial forest for more than 200 years and the current owner, the Merrill Family Trust, wished to see the property conserved rather than developed. In 2004 a wind farm development along Gardner Ridge was proposed and rejected by Lyman voters. A conservation project was then proposed for a new town forest for Lyman, but residents voted down a bond for the purchase of the property in March of 2009. Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT), the North Country's land conservancy, and The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, pursued an alternative conservation strategy, conserving the land with an easement but keeping it in private ownership.
After three years working with ACT and TPL the land has now been sold to a new owner, who will operate it as a commercial working forest subject to the conservation easement. Continued forestry will be done on a sustainable basis and will continue to support New Hampshire's rural economies. ACT will manage the easement.
"Land protection projects often take a lot of time and work, as this one did," said ACT Executive Director Rebecca Brown. "I'm sure we all wish John Merrill had lived to see this happen. It's a great tribute to him and his family, and a tremendous gift to people everywhere who care about seeing our landscape conserved for future generations."
"Gardner Mountain is a remarkable Lyman landmark worthy of protection," said J.T. Horn, project manager for The Trust for Public Land. "Our sincere thanks to the Merrill Family, New Hampshire's LCHIP fund, our other funding partners, and the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust for seeing this project through to the end."
Gardner Mountain includes some of the most important wildlife habitat in New Hampshire. Paddock Mine, an abandoned copper mine on the property, is one of the largest bat hibernacula in New Hampshire. Bats are under severe stress from a new and mysterious disease known as White Nose Syndrome, which is causing high mortality rates among several common species of bats. New Hampshire Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believe that conservation of the Paddock Mine hibernacula is a critical part of the response to White Nose Syndrome in New Hampshire.
"We appreciate the work that The Trust for Public Land and ACT have done in protecting this land," said Emily Brunkhurst, wildlife biologist for the NH Fish and Game Department. "Conserving this hibernacula provides a safe wintering habitat for bats who survive white-nose syndrome and their offspring. As you enjoy this newly conserved land, please help save our bats by staying out of the mine to allow them to hibernate without disturbance."
Lyman is a rural community that set goals to maintain its heritage of agriculture, forestry, and open recreational access. The property contains a significant portion of the Gardner Ridge, Lyman's scenic backdrop with western views from the church and fields in the center of the Town. The property will also remain open to pedestrian access for hiking, cross-country skiing and hunting. Visitors will be able to enjoy the dramatic views from the property toward Mount Moosilauke and the Kinsman Ridge in the White Mountain National Forest.
Funding for the $600,000 project came from the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), Open Space Institute - Saving New England Wildlife Fund, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation - Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund, the McIninch Foundation, Fields Pond Foundation, the Byrne Foundation, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department through the Landowner Incentive Program, and many private individuals.
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. In New Hampshire, TPL has protected more than 230,000 acres. Visit tpl.org/newhampshire.
Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust is a locally based, grassroots land conservancy. Our mission is to conserve land for the future growth and well being of New Hampshire's North County. ACT's work is the result of many hands. Visit aconservationtrust.org.
New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) is an independent state authority that makes matching grants to NH communities and non-profits to conserve and preserve New Hampshire's most important natural, cultural and historic resources. Through this investment Program every $1 in resources brings back more than five times local, private, federal funds, and helps to secure NH's greatest business advantage: The quality of life and traditional values of our state.
Open Space Conservancy, Inc., an affiliate of the Open Space Institute, Inc. is managing the Saving New England Wildlife Fund, a $6 million fund established with a lead grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in order to protect the wildlife habitat in northern New England.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats.
SOURCE The Trust For Public Land