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SELT celebrates $200,000 grant award to expand Birch Ridge Community Forest

November 26, 2020
NEW DURHAM — The Board of Directors of the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) has announced $4.1 million dollars in matching grants awarded to thirty-two projects across the state, including an approximately 640-acre expansion of Birch Ridge Community Forest in New Durham, which is part of the larger Keep Merrymeeting Clean initiative.

SELT has received $200,000 to support the conservation effort, which also included a robust campaign of private donations. The LCHIP grant completes the fundraising stage, allowing SELT to work toward conserving over 1,100 acres of critical watershed, wildlife protection, and public trails.

"We are so appreciative of LCHIP's award for this important project," said Brian Hart, Executive Director of SELT. "This grant and the incredible generosity of those who love Merrymeeting, will help keep the Lake, one of the cleanest lakes in New Hampshire, pristine and protected forever. In addition, this award will preserve valuable wildlife habitat and provide trails for all to enjoy."

The LCHIP award will help SELT acquire the Stell and Young Tracts adjacent to the 2,021-acre Birch Ridge Community Forest, which was conserved in 2019. SELT anticipates completing the purchase of these 640+ acres by April 2021. The expanded Birch Ridge Community Forest will continue to be stewarded in partnership with the community through the Community Forest Management Committee, made up of community members from the New Durham representing the Town, lake residents, snowmobiling, and other interest groups. The Community Forest is managed for public recreation, sustainable forestry, wildlife habitat, and the water quality of Merrymeeting Lake.

LCHIP funds will support projects in nine of the state's ten counties. This grant round was highly competitive, with nearly $8 million in funding requests compared to $4.1 million available for grants.

LCHIP Board of Directors Chair Amanda Merrill of Durham observed that "With the large number and high quality of applications that where submitted this year, the board had the satisfaction of awarding grants to a variety of wonderful projects-- and the regret of being unable to support many others. It is clear to me that the work of LCHIP is more important than ever."

Grant recipients are required to raise a minimum of one dollar for each dollar provided by LCHIP. This year's awards of $4.1 million will be matched by nearly $18 million that the project proponents will raise from other public and private sources, infusing a total of over $22 million into the state's economy in direct project activity.

About SELT 

SELT is a nonprofit land trust with a mission to protect and sustain the significant lands in our communities for clean water, fresh food, outdoor recreation, healthy forests, and wildlife. Since 1980, the Southeast Land Trust has worked in 52 communities of southeastern New Hampshire to conserve more than 22,000 acres of land through conservation agreements and ownerships. SELT is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information, visit seltnh.org. 

About New Hampshire's Land and Community Heritage Investment Program

The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program is an independent state authority created by the legislature in 2000. LCHIP's legislative mandate is to ensure the perpetual contribution of natural, cultural and historic resources to the economy, environment, and quality of life in New Hampshire. LCHIP does this by providing matching grants to New Hampshire communities and non-profits to conserve and preserve the state's most important natural, cultural and historic resources. The program has provided 499 grants which have helped to conserve approximately 294,000 acres of land for food production, water quality, ecological values, timber management and recreation and supported 301 projects to rehabilitate 286 historic structures and sites. Grants have been awarded in all parts of the state and in 176 of New Hampshire's 234 communities. Fifty million dollars of state money have led to a total project value of more than $289 million. The money for LCHIP grants comes from fees on four documents recorded at the Registry of Deeds in every county of the state.

Town of Brookfield
Town of Brookfield
Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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