State and nonprofit partnership protects private forest, opens new lands for recreation, improves water quality in the Beebe River watershed, provides climate benefits and supports local timber jobs
GRAFTON and CARROLL Counties, N.H. — The Conservation Fund and the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands announced today the completion of a multi-year effort to protect 6,395 acres of forestland and aquatic resources within the Beebe River watershed in central New Hampshire. Sharing a 6.5-mile boundary with White Mountain National Forest (WMNF), the newly conserved contiguous land will remain privately owned and sustainably managed to support forest industry products and jobs, while ensuring public recreational access, wildlife habitat and water resource protection.
Located just north of Squam Lake, where the 1981 movie “On Golden Pond” was filmed, this iconic forested landscape also has a deep history in the timber industry, providing spruce for the construction of airplanes used in the First World War. The protected area will be a gateway to the WMNF, linking 15 miles of recreational trails to 150 miles of statewide trail systems and guaranteeing public pedestrian access to hunt, fish, cross-country ski and hike, as well as motorized snowmobile access on designated trails.
The Conservation Fund, a national environmental nonprofit, purchased the land in 2014 through its Working Forest Fund® with support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation as part of 30,000 acres of former industrial timberland that was threatened by conversion and important for climate resilience across New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Maine. The Conservation Fund partnered with the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands to permanently protect these two adjacent properties totaling 6,395 acres with conservation easements, which limit development, provide public access and permit sustainable timber harvesting under private ownership.
A federal grant awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, which is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and private support from the Squam Lakes Conservation Society made the permanent protection of this working forest landscape possible.
“It’s an extraordinary accomplishment to achieve both conservation and restoration goals, while improving the health and vitality of a forested watershed for wildlife, climate resilience and nearby communities,” said Sally Manikian, The Conservation Fund’s New Hampshire and Vermont representative. “Finally, the fate of this land has been confirmed and it will continue to be managed as a working forest — ensuring jobs and revenue will stay in the region. Thanks to these efforts and the generous support from local and public partners, especially from the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the Squam Lake Conservation Society and LWCF, people and wildlife will be able to enjoy this important landscape for many years to come.”
“New Hampshire simply would not be New Hampshire without its forests and all that they provide,” said State Forester Patrick Hackley, director of the N.H. Division of Forests and Lands. “We are pleased to have a role in making sure this property will continue to be a multi-faceted resource for all to enjoy.”
“The USDA Forest Service is proud to provide funding through the Forest Legacy Program for the Beebe River Uplands project. Loss of forested areas poses an increasing threat to the integrity of the nation’s natural resources. As these areas are fragmented and disappear, so do the benefits they provide,” said Gina Owens, USDA Forest Service regional forester. “By providing economic incentives to landowners to keep their forests as forests, we can encourage sustainable forest management and support strong markets for forest products while helping protect the Beebe River and its exceptional habitat for brook trout.”
“The Squam community applauds and thanks the many partners who worked together to complete this huge project to protect the north slope of the Squam Range and so much of the Beebe River watershed. The dream of walking from the shores of Squam Lake to the height of Mt. Washington on conserved land is now a reality,” said Roger Larochelle, executive director of the Squam Lakes Conservation Society. “By working together, we’ve demonstrated that private and public institutions can achieve more than any one of us could do by ourselves. It’s a great example of what makes New Hampshire and Squam so special.”
Situated at the confluence of three distinct eco-regions — the White Mountains, the New Hampshire-Vermont Uplands and the Coastal Lowlands — the now-conserved land encompasses 27 percent of the Beebe River watershed, supporting drinking water quality and aquatic habitat for wild brook trout, which were designated one of New Hampshire’s Species of Greatest Conservation Need under the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Action Plan.
An award from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) in 2016 enabled efforts by The Conservation Fund, New Hampshire Fish and Game and Trout Unlimited to remove and replace stream crossings that compromised fish passage in five tributary streams into the mainstem of the Beebe River. This effort successfully restored habitat connectivity and natural flow regimes, reduced water temperature and streambank erosion, and ultimately improved aquatic habitat. Learn more about the water quality and fish passage restoration efforts in this video.
New Hampshire’s U.S. Congressional delegation representing Grafton and Carroll counties — U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and U.S. Representative Chris Pappas — supported use of federal funding for this project.
“New Hampshire is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in the world, and the Beebe River plays an important role bolstering that reputation. I’m grateful to The Conservation Fund, the New Hampshire Division of Forests and Lands, the Squam Lakes Conservation Society and the many other partners who helped to make this project a success so that Granite Staters and visitors from all over can enjoy the beauty and historic significance of the Beebe River and Squam Community,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “This investment from the Land and Water Conservation Fund will benefit the Granite State’s outdoor recreation economy, protect wildlife habitats and water resources, support our forest products industry and ensure that this land can be enjoyed by families for generations to come.”
“New Hampshire’s natural resources — from our mountains to our lakes and forests — are part of what makes our state so unique,” said Senator Maggie Hassan. “This conservation effort will help preserve the beauty of the Beebe watershed for generations to come, while also protecting industries that help the local economy thrive. I will continue working to secure critical funding for New Hampshire’s outdoor spaces, which are important to both our way of life and our economy.”
“New Hampshire’s way of life and our economy are rooted in our natural surroundings, and it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to protect our environment for future generations. The restoration of the Beebe River watershed is a prime example of what we can accomplish when the federal government works together with state and local partners,” said Congressman Chris Pappas. “I remain committed to doing all I can to protect our environment, guarantee public access to these spaces, and support our local economies through continued support for projects such as this.”
A national leader and advocate for the protection of environmentally sensitive areas through the financing of land acquisition, the Richard King Mellon Foundation has been instrumental in accelerating efforts to permanently conserve at-risk working forests across America. “The Beebe River Forest project is an important new chapter in the Foundation’s historic and ongoing commitment to habitat protection and activation in New England,” said Sam Reiman, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation. The Richard King Mellon Foundation has helped to conserve more than 4.5 million environmentally precious acres across the United States, including hundreds of thousands of acres in New England.