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Upper Saco Valley Land Trust Completes Pine Hill Community Forest Project
Conway, NH – The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust (USVLT), in partnership with Tin Mountain Conservation Center (TMCC), is extremely pleased to announce that we recently completed the purchase of the Pine Hill Community Forest property from the Kennett Company. The 460-acre Pine Hill parcel, located adjacent to Kennett High School, is a true conservation gem with more than a mile of the Conway Recreation Path, 125 acres of wetlands, nearly a mile of frontage on the Saco River, and 2,600 feet of scenic, undeveloped frontage on NH Route 16 and US Route 302.
“The Board of Directors of the Upper Saco Valley Land Trust is very grateful to all who generously supported our Pine Hill Community Forest Project.” said USVLT Board President Doug Burnell. “We are also grateful to the Kennett Company for working with us to preserve this important community resource.”
“As far as USVLT is concerned,” said Bayard Kennett, general manager for the Kennett Company, “we feel that they are an excellent organization with a great mission and will be excellent stewards of the land.”
Community input has been an essential part of this project. In April 2017, USVLT and TMCC conducted a community listening session to elicit initial feedback from abutters and other potential stakeholders. Additionally, USVLT and the Town of Conway signed a Memorandum of Agreement to work collaboratively on the management of the Pine Hill Community Forest going forward. In addition to representatives of USVLT and the Town of Conway, the Management Committee will also include representatives from the community.
Community benefits provided by the Pine Hill Community Forest will include public access for hiking, biking, hunting, and fishing, as well as environmental benefits such as protection of wildlife habitat and surface and ground water. Immediate plans for the Pine Hill Community Forest property include forming the Management Committee, working collaboratively with the Town of Conway and Mount Washington Valley Rec Path Committee on re-alignment of the Conway Recreation Path, and working closely with Kennett High School on programming to take advantage of the 460 acres of outdoor classroom space that will be next door.
The Pine Hill Community Forest Project was USVLT’s largest and most complex land protection project to date. The transaction involved two separate, exceptional tracts of land owned by the Kennett family for 100 years – the 450-acre Pine Hill parcel in Conway and the 91-acre Bald Hill Road parcel in Albany. USVLT now owns the Pine Hill parcel and TMCC owns the Bald Hill Road parcel, subject to a conservation easement held by USVLT. While permanently protected from development, both properties will continue to be managed as working forests and will also provide recreational and educational opportunities.
The Bald Hill Road property will be renamed “The Dr. Michael Cline Memorial Forest” in memory of TMCC’s long-time Executive Director, Dr. Michael Cline at a dedication ceremony later this August. “A passionate environmentalist, forester, and educator, Mike would be thrilled with the opportunities that exist with this new land acquisition.” said Lori Kinsey, TMCC’s current Executive Director.
“We are delighted,” said Kinsey. “Thanks to the incredible generosity of many individuals, families and foundations, we completed the fundraising in just over a year. We can now look forward to enjoying these remarkable open spaces for generations to come, and can rest assured that they are protected forever.”
The successful completion of the Pine Hill Community Forest Project would not have been possible without generous support from a broad range of sources. In addition to support from the Town of Conway, several private foundations and many, many individual contributions, the Pine Hill Community Forest Project has been protected with assistance from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). The project was also supported by funds from the sale of the conservation license plate (Moose Plate) through the NH State Conservation Committee grant program. Additionally, the project was supported through the Open Space Institute’s (OSI) Community Forest Fund, which supports the creation and expansion of community forests in Northern New England.
We will be having a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, August 11th at 9am at the high school to celebrate this wonderful community asset. Please contact USVLT at 603-356-9683 if you would like more information.
USVLT is a non-profit organization working with local landowners to permanently protect the lands and waters that define our communities and enrich our quality of life. Founded as a grassroots initiative in September 2000, USVLT preserves land for community benefit in the watershed of the upper Saco River in the towns of Bartlett, Hart’s Location, Jackson, Conway, Albany, Madison, Chatham and Eaton in New Hampshire and Fryeburg, Brownfield and Denmark in Maine.
USVLT’s goal is to promote a healthy, sustainable balance between developed lands, natural lands and productive rural landscapes. Together with partnership projects, USVLT has now completed 64 land conservation projects and protected over 11,000 acres throughout our service area. For more information about USVLT, visit www.usvlt.org or call (603) 356-9683.
The mission of the Tin Mountain Conservation Center is to promote an appreciation of the natural environment among children, adults, and families through hands-on programs in the schools, at camp, and in the community and to demonstrate responsible stewardship of natural resources through land protection, research, sustainable forestry, agriculture, and energy. For more information about Tin Mountain, visit www.tinmountain.org or call (603) 447-6991.
Funding from New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), which is designated for the protection of NH’s most important natural, historical and cultural resources, was instrumental in the successful completion of this land conservation project. LCHIP is an independent state authority that provides matching grants to New Hampshire communities and non-profits to protect and preserve the state’s most important natural, cultural and historic resources. Its mission is to ensure the perpetual contribution of these resources to the economy, environment, and the quality of life in New Hampshire. For more information about LCHIP, visit www.lchip.org or call (603) 224-4113.
New Hampshire’s Conservation License Plates help conserve our state’s natural, historical and cultural heritage. Since 2001, the Conservation License Plate program has contributed to the ongoing success of more than 150 projects around New Hampshire. All funds raised through the purchase of Conservation License Plates are used for the promotion, protection and investment in New Hampshire's natural, cultural and historic resources. For more information about the Moose Plate Program, visit www.mooseplate.com.
OSI’s Community Forest Fund Program helps rural communities in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont gain control of not only their forests but also of their economic futures. By taking on planning, ownership and stewardship responsibilities, communities benefit directly – economically, culturally, ecologically – from their forests. For more information about OSI, visit www.openspaceinstitute.org.