Press release from Milan Community Forest Committee. Photo credit: Jose Azel / Aurora Photos.
The town of Milan added 577 acres to its Community Forest. These lands will provide the town with income through sustainable timber harvesting, as well as places for local residents to hike, trail run, hunt, fish, and enjoy the outdoors. The project also protects important wildlife habitat in New Hampshire’s North Country. This is part of a multi-phase project, which will eventually protect nearly 1,400 acres of community forest in Milan.
The parcel protected is a 577-acre tract acquired from The Conservation Fund adjacent to Success Township. This tract is now permanently protected from development. Phase I of the project consisting of two tracts totaling 265 acres was completed in April. A third and fourth phase consisting of nearly 550 acres is expected to close early in 2017.
“The closing of this phase is a major success. We were pleased to help the people of Milan create their Community Forest earlier this year and we are now happy to see it grow,” said J.T. Horn, senior project manager for The Trust for Public Land. “Our mission is protecting land for people, and in the North Country that means protecting the traditional connections to the forest for rural economic viability and recreational access. This project would not have been possible without the generous and consistent support of Senators Ayotte and Shaheen, and Representative Kuster.”
George Pozzuto, chair of the Milan Community Forest Committee said, “This is a major milestone in the creation of the Milan Community Forest, and we are pleased that our land base has grown. This will allow us to manage our sustainable timber program to bring in more regular income and improve wildlife habitat at a more comprehensive scale. We want to thank The Trust for Public Land, the Northern Forest Center for their technical expertise, and all of the funders who made this acquisition happen. I also want to thank the citizens of Milan for their strong support for the creation of our Community Forest.”
The Milan Community Forest, on Oak Hill and French Hill near the Berlin Airport, is managed by a volunteer committee appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The Trust for Public Land bought the land and led fundraising, while the Northern Forest Center helped Milan organize the Community Forest Committee, create a governance structure, and develop a forest stewardship plan.
The $420,000 cost to purchase the land came from the U.S. Forest Service Community Forest Program, the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and the Town of Milan. The Conservation Fund purchased the property in 2014 as part of its Working Forest Fund®, a revolving capital investment fund that secures strategic parcels and buys time for creating a conservation outcome. This tract came into the project when The Trust for Public Land was applying for grants and another tract fell through at the last minute. The Conservation Fund generously made this parcel available on short notice to be added to the Milan Community Forest.
The Milan Community Forest Committee is now in the process of finalizing a new stewardship plan for the property to maximize the economic and community benefits including input from a licensed forester and from the public.
The Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation awarded a grant to fund expert technical assistance from the Northern Forest Center and The Trust for Public Land to launch and complete the project. Some of those funds are being passed through to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests to create a permanent endowment to fund monitoring of the conservation easements.
The Milan project is similar to other New Hampshire community forests, including those in Errol and Randolph. “Piece by piece Milan is assembling a Community Forest that will serve the town for generations,” said Julie Renaud Evans, program director for the Northern Forest Center. “Trees take decades to mature, so you get the best results from managing a forest over a very long time horizon. Knowing the forest will remain undeveloped and in town ownership, Milan can manage it for benefits ranging from wildlife habitat to timber harvesting, as well as recreation, education and other values.”
A $226,000-grant from the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest Program helped pay for the property. This competitive federal grant was secured by the Town of Milan after a national competition ranked the Milan project as the number one project in the nation. U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), supported the town’s application and helped find the Forest Service money after it was redirected to fight western wildfires.
The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at www.tpl.org.
The Northern Forest Center is a nonprofit organization that builds economic and community vitality while fostering sound forest stewardship across the Northern Forest of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.