Dear Lake Neighbors,
I am thrilled to share with you that last Friday the Birch Ridge Community Forest was officially awarded a $350,000 grant from the highly competitive Land and Community Heritage Investment Program! With this award, and a recent grant from the NH Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund, the fundraising goal of $2,950,000 to acquire, conserve, and steward the Birch Ridge Community Forest has been met!
This is a remarkable accomplishment completed in just seven months – only made possible by the leadership and generosity of lake and area residents who stepped up during the summer and fall to make gifts and pledges for the vision of the Birch Ridge Community Forest. Thank you all! Those gifts and pledges demonstrated the significance of this land and helped secure grants from state and federal agencies for the remaining funds. Our appreciation extends to our partners, SELT – the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways – whose leadership and professionalism developed a clear path for success.
What’s next? With the funding in place, the due diligence necessary to acquire the property is in full swing. SELT has hired the surveying firm of Eric C. Mitchell & Associates to complete the full property boundary survey, including any of the rights of way strips that extend to adjacent public roads like South Shore Road. Don’t be surprised if you see them doing their field work!
SELT and MMRG continue to work with the Birch Ridge Community Forest Steering Committee to develop a formal management plan for the property. Stay tuned for updates on that planning process or visit SELT’s page about the project, where regular updates will be posted.
In closing, although we have successfully reached the financial goal for the Birch Ridge property, this opportunity has sparked many to consider how to proactively conserve the remaining watershed of Merrymeeting Lake. To that end, if you were waiting until the last moment to contribute, you still can give by contributing to the Merrymeeting Lake Association’s Conservation Fund. Your donation to the MMLA conservation fund is tax deductible as allowed by law. Your donation today will help continue our efforts, in partnership with SELT and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, to put more available land into conservation and protect the water quality and scenic views of Merrymeeting Lake. Send your donation to MMLA PO Box 468 New Durham NH 03855, with “Conservation Fund” in the memo field.
I look forward to sharing further updates as this effort moves to the next stage in 2019 and as we plan for a community celebration next summer. Happy holidays to you and your family!
Merrymeeting Lake Association