After a successful fundraising campaign, the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests (Forest Society), in collaboration with MMRG, has added a 150-acre property to its 2,300-acre Moose Mountains Reservation in Middleton and Brookfield. The addition provides snowmobilers, horseback riders, hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts with more guaranteed access to open, undeveloped land and miles of trails on connected conservation areas while protecting working forest and wildlife habitat.

The recently purchased property, located along New Portsmouth Road, consists mostly of working forest that is part of the headwaters of the Salmon Falls River, noted by the U.S. Forest Service as one of the most threatened in the country.

“Protecting water quality, wildlife habitat and working forests that give us local wood products is important for all of us, but the personal benefit of this project that most people in the region might notice most is the beautiful, unbroken forest landscape along the Moose Mountain ridge that is visible from all around Lake Winnipesaukee,” said Jane Difley, the Forest Society’s president/forester.

Project grants came from the N.H. Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), the Adelard A. and Valeda Lea Roy Foundation, the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, and private individuals.
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“This project could not have happened without the help of the LCHIP committee and our other funders who saw an opportunity to enlarge this wonderful block of conserved land that so many people have worked for so many years to protect,” Difley said.

The Moose Mountains Reservation abuts the state’s Ellis Hatch Jr. Wildlife Management Area as well as tracts of Middleton Town Forest land. The area is high priority in MMRG’s conservation efforts, which partnered with the Forest Society in first conserving the Reservation nearly ten year ago. MMRG founding member Cynthia Wyatt noted that “the addition of this property fills in a strategic puzzle piece of MMRG’s regional vision to build and connect contiguous greenways of conservation land.”

Dominated by white pine and red oak as well as other hardwoods in a variety of successional stages, this addition provides timber resources as well as diverse wildlife habitat. Vernal pools on the property are critical breeding habitats for amphibian species, and the land is part of the headwaters of the Branch River and Jones Brook, both of which drain into aquifers supplying public drinking water.

“This area is a priority for us because it is a large and relatively unfragmented habitat that supports a host of far-ranging species, including black bear and moose, and it also allows outstanding recreational opportunities,” added Keith Fletcher, MMRG director of land conservation. “It was our pleasure to work again in partnership with the Forest Society to add land to the Moose Mountains Reservation, one of our region’s great conservation projects.”