In its fourteenth round of grant-making in the fall of 2020, the Quabbin to Cardigan Land Conservation Grants Program awarded grants totaling $50,000 to seven projects that will conserve a total of approximately 384 acres of land. 93% of the acres protected are located within areas identified as conservation priorities in the Q2C land conservation plan – falling within either “core conservation focus areas” and/or critical “Connectivity Corridors”. The total value of the projects funded in 2020 (land and easement value plus transaction and other costs) is conservatively estimated at nearly $1.3 million. The projects are briefly summarized below.

The two-state Quabbin-to-Cardigan region spans one hundred miles from the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts northward along the western spine of New Hampshire to the boundary of the White Mountain National Forest. Encompassing approximately two million acres, the region is one of the largest remaining areas of intact forest in central New England and is a key headwater of both the Merrimack and Connecticut Rivers.

The Q2C conservation grants are guided by a strategic plan that prioritizes the region’s most ecologically significant forests and key connections between them for wildlife passage and human recreation. All projects are on a strictly voluntary, willing-seller/donor basis. The funded projects are:

Littlewood, Warwick, MA

Applicant: Massachusetts Audubon
Acres to be Conserved:  60
Protection Method:  Land Purchase
Q2C Grant Award: $9,643
Total Project Costs: $94,965

Mass Audubon will permanently protect this parcel of vacant forested land, which is in the Gales Brook corridor. This land abuts Warwick State Forest and the Tamburrini land conserved by Mass Audubon, and will fill a gap in connected open space, extending unfragmented land in the wildlife corridor. It also provides an improved long-term access point to both the Tamburrini land to the west and to Warwick State Forest, which includes the highest point on the New England Scenic Trail—Tully Mountain.

Forkey-Lundholm CE, Alexandria, NH

Applicant:  Society for the Protection of NH Forests
Acres to be Conserved:  17
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
Q2C Grant Award: $4,166
Total Project Costs: $126,920

These landowners are the first of 6 families who want to conserve some 500 acres abutting conservation land on Cardigan Mountain. This parcel is small but abuts conservation land on 2 sides, includes 450’ of frontage on the Fowler River, and is central to this neighborhood effort. It will enhance and enlarge the thousands of protected acres on AMC and State conservation lands and provide protection from residential development in this desirable area, which has quick access to Mt. Cardigan hiking trails.

Pletcher Farm, Warner, NH

Applicant: Five Rivers Conservation Trust
Acres to be Conserved: 117
Protection Method: Purchased Conservation Easement
Q2C Grant Award: $10,000
Total Project Costs: $479,000

Five Rivers will purchase at a bargain sale a conservation easement on 5 parcels, limiting subdivision and development, and keeping the farm available to future farmers at a cost consistent with its farm value. In addition to conserving the farmed land, which includes 6 acres of vegetable crops and 8 acres of pastureland supporting livestock, the easement will conserve more than 100 acres of forested land available for wildlife habitat and forest management. A continuous block of permanently conserved land connects Pletcher Farm through the Town Forest to areas of conserved land on Mt. Kearsarge, an unfragmented block of greater than 10,000 acres. Low-impact, non-commercial pedestrian public recreation and education access will be allowed when it does not interfere with active agricultural operations.

Sonnichsen/Howe CE, Goshen, NH

Applicant: Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust
Acres to be Conserved: 34
Protection Method: Purchased Conservation Easements
Q2C Grant Award: $6,204
Total Project Costs: $83,500

The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust will receive a donated easement on 34 acres of land adjacent to 385 acres of already conserved land. These parcels are near the Pillsbury Sunapee Highlands, a large block of contiguous conserved land that extends from Newbury in the north to Washington in the South and includes land in 5 towns, and there is the possibility of future projects in Goshen that may connect these parcels to this larger area. There is a network of trails on the property that would be open to the public for low-impact recreation, including hiking, nature observation, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The landowner would retain the right to post the property against motorized and wheeled vehicles, camping and hunting.

Carruth North & South, Newport, NH

Applicant:  Upper Valley Land Trust
Acres to be Conserved:  99
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
Q2C Grant Award: $10,000
Total Project Costs: $116,214

The Carruth family will donate to the Upper Valley Land Trust development rights on 2 parcels of their land in northern Newport. These parcels hold mixed hardwood forest and comprise uplands that are an important part of the Sugar River watershed. They also provide habitat to wildlife in the area, including deer, moose, and bears. A trail on the southern parcel to be conserved connects to the network of public recreational trails—used for hiking, mountain biking, and trail running—located in the Newport Town Forest and is used primarily for mountain biking. The easement for this parcel will allow for dispersed public access, likely coming from the Newport Town Forest trailheads.

Steel Addition to Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve, New Ipswich, NH

Applicant:  Northeast Wilderness Trust
Acres to be Conserved:  16
Protection Method:  Land Purchase
Q2C Grant Award: $2,764
Total Project Costs: $108,549

The Northeast Wilderness Trust’s purchase of this 16-acre parcel adjacent to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve will result in just under 2,000 forever-wild acres being permanently protected in the critical area of the Q2C. The Trust will record a Declaration of Trust with the State of NH and preserve the land as forever wild, prohibiting any buildings or other improvements and prohibiting motarized or mechanized access or logging or industrial use of the property. This parcel includes a wetland and high-quality habitat. Its location, near an already present snowplow turnaround, makes it a gateway to the Binney Hill Wilderness Preserve and will be available to visitors to bushwhack to the Wapack Trail or find solace in the land.

Schnyer Conservation Easement, Swanzey, NH

Applicant:  Monadnock Conservancy
Acres to be Conserved:  41
Protection Method:  Donated Conservation Easement
Q2C Grant Award: $7,223
Total Project Costs: $318,448

This landowner will donate to the Monadnock Conservancy a permanent conservation easement on 41 acres of land adjacent to a 235-acre town-owned parcel that includes Mount Caesar. This parcel is mostly forested with three springs, an intermittent stream, and a wetland area as well as 7 acres of maintained fields. Mt Caesar currently has public access through an existing trail network and a parking lot on the town-owned parcel. But there is also a trail, maintained by the family, that crosses this property and leads up the steeply sloped south side of Mt. Caesar. This trail is not publicized, although locals do use it. The easement will protect against future development, which would be likely as road frontage would be adequate for a road in to the flat, well-drained fields on the property.

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