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18.5 acres added to Pondicherry Refuge

August 05, 2009
JEFFERSON — An 18.5-acre parcel of land was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday by the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT) as part of the mitigation for wetlands disturbed in association with the construction of a taxiway at the Mount Washington Regional Airport in Whitefield.

The land on Airport Road, previously owned by Mark Carroll of Florida, is not far from the pedestrian entrance to Pondicherry Unit of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The parcel is located on the west side of Airport Road across from the airport beacon near the corner of Jefferson near the town lines of both Whitefield and Carroll.

ACT facilitated and completed a complex multi-partner deal to meet the requirements of the state Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) for wetland mitigation at the airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funneled $93,750 through the town of Whitefield to Mr. Carroll to pay for the property, which includes both wetlands and uplands that are used for a variety of wildlife species, explained Rebecca Brown, ACT's executive director.

"We worked with a number of entities, including the Conservation Commissions of both Whitefield and Jefferson and airport engineers, to identify a suitable parcel for mitigation purposes that was available from a willing seller," Ms. Brown said. "We looked at a number of parcels and found that the Carroll parcel — already on the market and in the FAA's price range — best fulfilled ACT's mission of conserving important habitat."

In choosing projects on which to concentrate, ACT seeks to demonstrate that the goals of enhancing conservation — the "green" infrastructure — and the region's economic development infrastructure are compatible, Ms. Brown explained.

Speaking on behalf of the Jefferson Conservation Commission, Dave Govatski of Jefferson said, "This 18.5-acre parcel of land is excellent habitat for the American woodcock and other wildlife species. Fifty years ago this was old pasture land, and it is now reverting to 'shrub-scrub' habitat. Much of the ground is really wet and not suitable for building, making wildlife habitat is an excellent use for it." Mr. Govatski also serves on the ACT board of directors and also is president of the Friends of Pondicherry.

ACT (www.aconservationtrust.org) works in 16 towns: Bath, Bethlehem, Carroll, Dalton, Easton, Franconia, Jefferson, Lancaster, Landaff, Lisbon, Littleton, Lyman, Monroe, Northumberland, Sugar Hill, and Whitefield.

The Pondicherry Division of the Conte now totals over 5,500 acres, including 166 acres protected by conservation easement. 

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