SPNHF buys 530-acre conservation easement to try to block Northern Pass


December 19, 2012
STEWARTSTOWN — The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) announced on Friday that it had purchased the first of the four conservation easements that it had announced earlier that are part of its "Trees Not Towers" capital campaign, designed to thwart the Northern Pass transmission line, as now proposed.

This action conserves 530 acres owned by Green Acre Woodlands, a registered Tree Farm whose land slopes upward from North Hill Road. With an elevation of approximately 2,170 feet, the parcel toffers nearly 360-degree views from North Hill.

"We've wanted for several years to protect this land," said Jane Difley, SPNHF president-forester in a prepared statement. "We're pleased that the owners had the same goal in mind.

"Moreover, we are determined to protect other existing conserved lands from the threat presented by the proposed Northern Pass transmission line across 180 miles of New Hampshire, including the White Mountain National Forest," Difley continued.

"The Green Acre Woodlands parcel is a strategic part of our efforts to compel Hydro Quebec, Northeast Utilities and PSNH to look at other viable options for their private transmission line," Difley said. "We remain confident that they will not successfully acquire an unimpeded route through northern New Hampshire, thus sparing the rest of the state through the Lakes Region, Concord and onto Deerfield."

While mostly forested, the Green Acre Woodlands parcel includes more than 100 acres of open fields that are enrolled in a federal program that delays mowing until August to encourage grasses, forbs and small shrubs and to enhance the wildlife habitat on the property. The permanent protection of this property has been a goal of the Forest Society for several years because of its significant wildlife habitat value.

The conservation easement guarantees public access to the property, while permanently prohibiting any commercial development — outside of agriculture and forestry — including any transmission lines or towers. Green Acre Woodlands retains a reserved right to withdraw three 10-acre lots that may be subdivided and sold separately.

SPNHF's Trees Not Towers campaign seeks to raise $2.5 million to put conservation easements on parcels of land in Cos County that would serve to block what appears to be the intended route of the proposed Northern Pass transmission line.

The campaign has raised $1.15 million to date. More than 1,200 donations have come from nearly 200 different towns in the Granite State as well as 26 states across the country.

"We're on track to complete this campaign in the new year," said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, SPNHF's vice president for development. "End-of-year contributions are coming in, and the new tax year will bring more." Contributions to the campaign can be made online at www.forestsociety.org/np.

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