New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen and United States Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) created the Connecticut Lakes Headwaters Partnership Task Force in July, 2001 charged to ensure that the many traditional uses of the International Paper Company land in Northern New Hampshire are preserved for future generations.
A broad coalition, including local North Country representatives, state and federal officials, and private nonprofits, are working together on the Task Force to address the sale of 171,000 acres owned by the International Paper Company, comprising the headwaters land of the Connecticut and Androscoggin rivers in Pittsburg, Clarksville and Stewartstown. The Task Force is assessing opinion and working to develop a locally driven conservation strategy that preserves the traditional mulitple uses of the land and its economic and recreational value to the region.
The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit organization, has agreed to buy the land from International Paper, and hold on to it until local, state and federal officials develop a strategy, and find the funding, to protect its traditional uses.
"This land is important to the economy of the North Country and to the State of New Hampshire. My priority is ensuring that we preserve public access and this land's traditional uses, including forestry, hunting, snowmobiling, and other recreation, as well as protecting environmentally sensitive areas," Gov. Shaheen said. "This Task Force will allow everyone interested in this land's future to work together to ensure that it is managed in the best interests of our state's citizens, our economy and our quality of life."
Senator Gregg secured an initial $4 million award in the Fiscal Year 2002 Interior Appropriations bill to help the State of New Hampshire acquire a conservation easement on the land.
Senator Gregg stated, "The Task Force will serve an important role to ensure all interested parties are working in partnership with local officials and residents to address the International Paper land sale. While the $4 million federal award will serve as a good start, it will need to be supplemented by substantial state and private funding components with local officials and North Country residents playing a key role in the conservation and management decisions regarding the future of these lands. While I will continue to work at the federal level to secure more funding, the ultimate goal of course is to ensure that the conservation of the International Paper lands is secured within a reasonable time frame while guaranteeing its long-standing multi-use history. The land represents a strategic economic, recreational and natural resource asset for the North Country and the State of New Hampshire and I am pleased local, state, federal, and private interests are joining forces to seize the opportunity to conserve this vast tract of forestland for the benefit of future generations."
Governor Shaheen and Senator Gregg charged the Steering Committee of the Task Force with recommending a long-term vision for the property, and the protection methods and funding sources that will be necessary to achieve that vision. An advisory Technical Committee will provide the Steering Committee with the technical natural resources and economic information it needs to make its recommendations.