August 2, 2018

Land Purchase Enhances Recreational Access at White Mountain National Forest

COOS COUNTY, N.H.  — Hunters, fishermen, hikers, snowmobilers, mountain bikers, horseback riders, and wildlife enthusiasts will now find it easier to access the rivers, brooks, trails and natural beauty of Coos County in the White Mountain National Forest. Thanks to the recent efforts of The Conservation Fund and the U.S. Forest Service, 783 acres in the towns of Stark and Milan are now conserved with funding from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Located within and adjoining the National Forest, the newly acquired lands—180 acres in the town of Stark and 603 acres in Milan—protect access to the West Milan and Rocky Pond snowmobile trails, and Unknown Pond, Mill Brook, and the Kilkenny Ridge hiking trails. Approximately a mile of frontage along the Upper Ammonoosuc River has also been conserved, and public road access is now secured for other National Forest lands that have historically been difficult to access for hunting, fishing, forest management, wildfire suppression and a variety of other outdoor recreation activities.

“This great conservation outcome is the direct result of support from users, the local snowmobile clubs, hikers, hunters, fisherman, and our partners as well other collaborating governmental agencies,” said White Mountain National Forest Supervisor Clare Mendelsohn. “The project received unanimous support from New Hampshire’s US Congressional delegation and the Towns of Stark and Milan. It is their vision and efforts that we celebrate here. The land is now conserved and is no longer in threat of conversion and development and this acquisition has secured critical access for traditional land uses and sustained forest management forever.”

“Aldo Leopold—a forester, avid hunter, well-known environmentalist and author—said: ‘There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land. These relationships are profoundly intertwined in North Country communities and revealed in support of this National Forest expansion,” noted Nancy Bell, Vermont and New Hampshire Director for The Conservation Fund. “The landscape and our place in it is the common ground—bringing hunters, hikers, and snowmobilers together for the common good.”

The Conservation Fund purchased the lands in 2014 through its Working Forest Fund® working closely with members from both Milan and Stark, and have since been sustainably managing the property as working forestland until funding could be provided for its permanent protection. This acquisition is part of a bi-state economic and conservation effort known as the Mahoosuc Initiative. This initiative works to sustain the forest industry, promote landscape protection, and develop outdoor recreation in the Mahoosuc Region that supports rural economic vitality.

“The Town of Milan was pleased to support this addition to the National Forest,” said Randy Fortin, Chair of the Milan Selectboard. “This part of the forest forms a common boundary with the corridor our Community Forest is establishing across Milan with the help of The Conservation Fund.  It is important to us to have land open for traditional public use like hunting, fishing, and sustainable timber harvest.” 

“This is a good thing for the Town of Stark!” stated Albert Cloutier, Jr., the Town of Stark’s Selectboard Chair. “We’re pleased that the access off Mill Brook Road is conserved, and that diverse public recreation is expanded and protected into the future, including the connectivity of state snowmobile trails that traverse Stark into Milan.”

U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, and U.S. Representative Ann McLane Kuster (NH-2) supported New Hampshire’s request for LWCF funding and helped to secure the Congressional appropriations for the program. LWCF is a bipartisan, federal program that uses a percentage of proceeds from offshore oil and gas royalties—not taxpayer dollars—to acquire critical lands and protect our country’s best natural resources and recreational access for more than 50 years. The LWCF will expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress acts to reauthorize.

“Outdoor recreation plays a significant role in New Hampshire’s growing economy, so I’m thrilled to see this expansion of land into the White Mountain National Forest,” said Senator Shaheen. “This addition will provide Granite Staters and tourists with ample opportunity to explore New Hampshire’s natural beauty. I’m very pleased that the Land and Water Conservation Fund helped make this effort possible, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll continue to prioritize measures that invest in and preserve New Hampshire’s environment and wildlife, and that support our state’s outdoor recreation sector.”

“The White Mountain National Forest is critical to our state’s economy, environment, and way of life in the Granite State, and I am thrilled about the incorporation of 783 acres into one of our state’s most treasured natural resources,” Senator Hassan said. “Acquiring this land will improve and expand access for Granite Staters and visitors from around the world who enjoy the multitude of recreational opportunities the White Mountain National Forest has to offer. This acquisition will also enhance conservation efforts in the region. I will keep advocating to fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which plays a vital role in protecting the beautiful natural resources that make the Granite State special.” 

“Outdoor recreation and conservation are central to our economy and identity in New Hampshire,” said Representative Kuster. “I applaud protection of this beautiful land, which will enhance forest conservation efforts and expand the already incredible outdoor space that Granite Staters and visitors enjoy. I want to thank and congratulate everyone who helped make this possible. The partnership between The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service was made possible by critical funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program of great significance to New Hampshire. To ensure that future projects like this become a reality in our state, it is imperative that Congress reauthorizes LWCF before it expires on September 30, 2018. I have cosponsored bipartisan legislation that would permanently reauthorize LWCF, and I urge Congressional leaders to bring this bill to the floor for a vote.”

This land purchase also supports ongoing efforts by federal, state, local and private partners—including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited, New Hampshire’s Fish and Game Department and Department of Environmental Services, as well as the City of Berlin—to conserve and restore the critical water resources of the Upper Ammonoosuc watershed, which feeds into the Connecticut River watershed. The groundwater‐fed streams and wetlands comprise rare and important fish and wildlife habitat features on the National Forest. In addition, a portion of the Upper Ammonoosuc watershed serves as a municipal water supply and its cold waters also support an important State fish hatchery.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than eight million acres of land, including more than 32,000 acres in New Hampshire.

Ann Simonelli | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5809 |