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Success conservation project enlarged by 9,000 acres


July 21, 2010
BERLIN — The Cos County commissioners voted unanimously to write a letter to support the application of The Conservation Fund (TCF) to receive federal Forest Legacy "working forest" funds for both Phase II and Phase III of its Mahoosuc Gateway/Success conservation project.

TCF conservation specialist Nancy Bell of Shrewsbury, Vt., updated the board of commissioners at Wednesday's meeting on the efforts of the Arlington, Va.-based nonprofit group, working in collaboration with a number of other nonprofit organizations.

Phase I, is a fee purchase of 4,700 acres from T.R. Dillon Logging, Inc., of Anson, Me., for the National Park Service to be managed by the White Mountain National Forest. The purchase will be completed using $2.75 million from the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. This acreage is on the north side of the Appalachian Trail (AT) on the rugged high-elevation lands of the Mahoosuc Range, unsuitable for timber harvesting.

Another conservation easement on 1,200 acres of "working forest" in Shelburne will serve to enhance protection along three miles of the AT.

Phase I will protect important trailheads and trails, including the Carlo Col Trail to Mt. Carlo and the Goose Eye Trail to Goose Eye Mountain.

Phase II of the project calls for a conservation easement to be purchased on the remaining 15,200 acres of Dillon Logging's land. The easement will be designed to prohibit development and fragmentation of the "working forest" tract and to allow timber harvesting and public access to hiking, hunting, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and motorized recreational use — ATVs and snowmobiles — on designated trails.

Phase III, recently added to TCF's efforts in Success, is designed to protect 9,000 acres surrounding Success Pond and its privately held camps owned by the Heartwood Forestland Group, an independent timber investment management organization, headquartered in Chapel Hill, N.C. Phase III is north of Phase II.

Ms. Bell reported that earlier this year the $3 million Forest Legacy Fund application was ranked fourth in New Hampshire and was not funded. Now, however, she is preparing to resubmit this application, expanded to include Phase III, in the next round of funding for the FY2012 federal budget. It likely will take two budget cycles to raise the needed funds.

In answer to Commissioner Paul Grenier of Berlin's questions about timber harvesting practices required under the Forest Legacy program, Ms. Bell explained that not only would liquidation harvesting be forbidden, but that steps would also be taken to protect wetlands, streams, deeryards, and the unusual ecology and wildlife in the tracts to be conserved in Phases II and III. Both a stewardship plan and a forestry plan would be required.

There would be a level of oversight and monitoring that would be beyond that required under New Hampshire law, she said. Some "restoration" forestry would likely be practiced in the Phase II lands.

"Well-managed forests are an asset to both the local population and to tourists," Ms. Bell said.

She promised to provide the commissioners with a template of the easement language (available on the state DRED website) and pointed out that there would also be a lot of conversation about what specific provisions should be included. Commissioner Grenier suggested that the answer to the question of who should pay to maintain Success Pond Road should be included in the document. "We need a long-term maintenance solution," he noted.

If either Dillon Logging or the management organization should sell the land, the conservation easement language would "run with the land," Ms. Bell said.

Since Success is an Unincorporated

Place, Commissioner Grenier pointed out that the board serves as its selectmen, so he said he believes that the commissioners will have to agree to any easement documents. He said he supports the project's concept, but that he will wait to see the agreement before committing himself to signing anything.

All the commissioners supported maintaining the Phase II and Phase III tracts as working forests, available to support the forest industry in Cos County.

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