The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) announced today the addition of 510 acres of valuable wetland and wildlife habitat to the Pondicherry Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge. With this acquisition, it is the first time since the refuge was created in 1997 that refuge lands will connect to the White Mountain National Forest.
The newly acquired tract in Carroll and Whitefield provides high quality, diverse wetland habitat for waterfowl, migratory birds, black bear, moose, and other local wildlife. Funds for the acquisition came from the federal Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which is derived in large part through the sale of waterfowl hunting licenses or “Duck Stamps.” Hunting and fishing, both traditional uses in the area, will be allowed.
The Nature Conservancy assisted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the acquisition of fee title to the 510 acre Dodge 6 tract, by directing the deed at closing to the USFWS. The purchase price was $385,000. The acquisition will help conserve spruce fir forested wetlands and brooks that feed into Moorhen Marsh in the heart of the Pondicherry Division of the Silvio O. Conte Fish and Wildlife Refuge. This project expands the Pondicherry Division south of Airport Road to Route 115 and provides critical protection of land along the Presidential Range Rail Trail which extends into the Refuge.
“This is a terrific addition to Pondicherry not only does it expand one of the North Country’s Important Bird Areas, it both connects people to nature and the White Mountain National Forest to the Refuge,” said Daryl Burtnett, State Director, The Nature Conservancy.
The Dodge family has been working with the USFWS over the past few years to help protect the unique biological resources in and around the Pondicherry Conservation Area. The Dodge 6 tract provides critical buffer protection to Cherry Pond and John's River, including a high quality complex of northern forest ponds and wetlands surrounded by lowland spruce-fir forest, and critical habitat for a wide range of migratory birds.
“The Dodge family is very pleased to be able to provide this land as an addition to the Pondicherry Wildlife Refuge. We have enjoyed the land for many years and look forward to continuing to enjoy it and it’s wildlife as part of the Refuge,” said David Dodge.
“It was a pleasure working with the Dodge family on this important addition to the Conte Refuge. This parcel protects the gateway to Pondicherry’s diverse wildlife habitat,” said Jan McClure, Land Protection Specialist for The Nature Conservancy.
The Pondicherry Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge is a high quality complex of northern forest ponds and wetlands surrounded by lowland spruce-fir forest, and provides critical habitat for a wide range of migratory birds. Pondicherry lies strategically in a low valley between the main land base of the White Mountain National Forest and the northern Kilkenny section. The area has long been known to offer exceptional avian habitat, supporting approximately 230 species of birds of which 125 species have been confirmed as breeding. Pondicherry is documented to harbor a greater diversity of birds than any other similar-sized area in New Hampshire, and harbors breeding occurrences of five Category 1 bird species (threatened, endangered, and special concern) and eight other species of high conservation concern. Species of particular conservation interest include common loon, northern harrier, sore, rusty blackbird, whip-poor-will, and American black duck. Twenty species of reptiles and amphibians, 41 species of mammals, and 17 species of fish have also been documented to use the Pondicherry Refuge site.
The Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge currently includes seven divisions aimed at protecting critical habitats across the Connecticut River watershed. With the new addition, the Pondicherry Division now totals more than 6,000 acres. TNC has assisted the USFWS with similar transactions at Pondicherry over the past five years, helping to add nearly 1700 acres of the Refuge.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 14 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 83 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Since 1961, The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire has helped protect more than 270,000 acres of ecologically significant land and currently owns and manages 30 preserves across the state. For more information, visit www.nature.org/newhampshire.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a federal agency whose mission is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 96 million acre National Wildlife Refuge System, the world’s preeminent system of public lands devoted to protection and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats. The 548 units of the Refuge System receive over 40 million visitors each year who participate in hunting, fishing, wildlife observation and photography, environmental education and interpretation, and other outdoor recreation activities.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.