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Critical Waterfowl Habitat Protected

Press release from Nature Conservancy | May 06, 2005

Greenland, New Hampshire - Canada geese, black ducks, mallards and other waterfowl have long enjoyed the Smith family’s cornfield on Great Bay in Greenland during their annual migrations. Now that essential stop on their journey is permanently protected from development.

The Nature Conservancy has purchased the 38.7-acres on behalf of the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership. The parcel will ultimately be transferred to the N.H. Fish and Game Department.

U.S. Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire said the partnership’s latest success is a great example of its ability to work with a wide array of lands and willing sellers to benefit wildlife and people around Great Bay.

“Great Bay is one of the most diverse and significant ecosystems, not only in New Hampshire but in this entire region of the country,” said Sen. Gregg. “Given the development pressures and growth in this part of New Hampshire, it is important for all of us to protect and conserve great Bay. The work of the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership has been critical in carrying out this responsibility. The addition of the Smith Farm to the network of protected parcels here is another major success for the partnership. I want to congratulate all the members of the partnership for their continued commitment to Great Bay and I am pleased to have been able to support these efforts.”

The Greenland transaction is an important one for the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership and is especially significant for conservation efforts on the bay’s eastern shore. The tract abuts three other parcels protected by the partnership, all on Great Bay and all north of this piece near the Greenland/Newington line on Newington Road. Combined, the tracts create a 123-acre block of protected habitat on the Bay. The Smith parcel alone protects 1,121 feet of shoreline on Great Bay, and a total of 4,540 feet (almost 1 mile) with the other three parcels.

“This is an excellent piece of agricultural land,” said Ed Robinson, a waterfowl biologist with the N.H. Fish and Game Department. “With corn on that land, it’s often used by Canada geese, black ducks, and mallards.” The Department will have an agreement with the Smith family allowing the family to continue growing crops as part of the farming operation that will also benefit waterfowl and other wildlife.

“The Smith Farm is a wonderful addition to the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve,” said Peter Wellenberger, the reserve’s manager. “This purchase completes the conservation of land along the shoreline between Pickering Brook and Swan Island. As one of the seacoast's few remaining active farms, we are pleased this land will remain in crop production.”

The Smith family, whose main farm is across Newington Road in Greenland, has been farming the piece since 1895. The tract has been one of the family’s most productive fields for crops – primarily hay and corn.

The Smith’s farm is the last dairy operation in Greenland and one of the last dairy farms in the Great Bay area. The family has 110 milking cows and 110 young livestock.

“I would feel very bad if that tract was ever developed,” said Cynthia Smith, whose son Allen heads the farming operations. "Our family has had a long love for farming and for Great Bay. So this deal is very satisfying for us. We hope to continue the farm here for a long time to come and we're also very supportive of protecting Great Bay and the open spaces around it."

Protection of the Smith tract was made possible by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership. The Nature Conservancy is the partnership's lead acquisition agent.

"The Smith farm is a terrific addition to the protection of Great Bay," said Daryl Burtnett, state director of The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire. "Without the commitment of the full partnership, and the critically important funding that Senator Gregg has been able to bring through NOAA, our most precious estuary and it's surrounding woods, wetlands and farms would be disappearing as they are in so many other areas."

The Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership is a comprehensive approach to identify and protect Great Bay’s most critical habitats. With The Nature Conservancy as lead acquisition agent, the partners also include the, Ducks Unlimited, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Natural Resources Conservation Service, New Hampshire Audubon, New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Since 1994 the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership has protected nearly 4,000 acres of critical habitat around Great Bay. Local communities and other organizations have protected an additional 3,020 acres that the partnership has been able to use as match to leverage federal funding. The leading sources of funds include the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, North American Wetland Conservation Act and private donations.

Article has been adapted from a news release issued by Nature Conservancy. Click here for the original news release.

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