After 12 years of quiet, steady progress, efforts to protect one of New Hampshire’s most important ecosystems have recently reached a significant milestone.
The Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership has passed the 5,000 mark in the number of acres protected since its first project in 1996.
On behalf of the Partnership, The Nature Conservancy recently completed five acquisitions – 121 acres in Durham and Newmarket – moving the Partnership’s total of protected acreage to 5,098 acres.
“It is a testament to the power of partnerships, place and people who care that the 5000 acre mark has been surpassed at Great Bay,” said Daryl Burtnett, state director of TNC’s New Hampshire Chapter. “This work would have been impossible without the steadfast support of the local communities, Senator Gregg and the rest of our delegation’s support, and the shared determination of the principle partners. This is a watermark of which all of us can be proud.”
The Great Bay Partnership has undertaken a comprehensive, landscape-scale approach to conservation and habitat protection within 24 towns around Great Bay. Since 1994, the Partnership has operated as a unique cooperative effort intended to further collective conservation goals and promote conservation actions in the Great Bay region. Habitat protection strategies and stewardship activities are developed and implemented through scientific field studies and collaboration with local, regional, state and national conservation partners.
Its principle partners include: Ducks Unlimited; Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; N.H. Audubon; N.H. Fish and Game Department; Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests; The Nature Conservancy; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge; and the U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Partnership’s recent acquisitions include protection of 102.4 acres of ecologically significant habitats in Durham and 18.9 acres in Newmarket.
• 65.2 acres in Durham. A conservation easement now protects this land owned by the Rollins family. Located off Durham Point Road, the easement protects a wide mix of upland forest, field and wetland habitats, and part of a tidal stream on Little Bay. The area adjoins a 64-acre tract owned by the Rollins family that was protected by conservation easement in 2002. In the recent deal, the Rollins family also gave a generous contribution to a stewardship endowment.
• 37.25 acres in Durham. On behalf of the Partnership, the Conservancy purchased this tract near Dame Road from the Klein family. The tract adjoins three tracts that were previously protected by the Partnership, and includes a large beaver pond that supports an osprey nest and great blue heron rookery and also provides excellent waterfowl habitat. The property’s mix of freshwater wetlands and upland buffers offers exceptional habitat for reptiles and amphibians. The tract will ultimately be transferred to the N.H. Fish and Game Department.
• 15.3 acres in Newmarket. A conservation easement – which will ultimately be transferred to the N.H. Fish and Game Department – protects this land owned by the Schneer family of Newmarket. The tract is near several hundred acres of conserved lands and includes frontage on a wetland associated with the Piscassic River.
• 2.8 acres in Newmarket. On behalf of the Partnership, the Conservancy acquired this tract off Bay View Road in Newmarket. This is the Partnership’s second transaction with the Pitman and Zuk families. The recent acquisition involves the purchase of several small tracts associated with 1950s-era seasonal camps on Great Bay.
• .8 acres in Newmarket. Acquired from Continental Advisors, this small, partially wooded abuts the 2.8 acres off Bay View Road, mentioned above. The lot has more than 360 feet of frontage on Great Bay, including saltmarsh and intertidal rocky shoreline. Both of the above lands will ultimately be transferred to the N.H. Fish and Game Department.
Though, however much pride we can take in our achievements, we owe it to our children, grandchildren and future generations to aim even higher – to preserve even more of the Great Bay Estuary! Right now we are working with eight landowners to protect approximately 400 additional acres through land acquisitions and conservation easements. The cost to protect these very important lands for people and nature is $4,317,000 and we need your help to raise the remaining $300,000.
In addition to private dollars raised by The Nature Conservancy, funds for the recent acquisitions come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
For more information, visit the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership’s NEW website at: www.greatbaypartnership.org.