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First in the Nation American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Emergency Watershed Program Floodplain Easement Purchase

The Natural Resources Conservation Service has purchased the first floodplain conservation easement with Recovery Act funding.  The $82,182 easement purchase closed on September 23, 2009.  The first restoration payment in the amount of $148,600, equal to the assessed value of the home, was made on September 24th.  NRCS will be working with local conservation partners: the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire, and the Lamprey River Advisory Committee, to implement the remaining restoration practices, which include removal of the house and buildings and restoration of the hydrology and vegetation in the 7.2-acre floodplain. The Southeast Land Trust now owns the land.   A $16,000 donation, provided by the Lamprey River Advisory Committee, was made to the Southeast Land Trust to manage the property in perpetuity.   

This 7.2-acre parcel is located at the confluence of Pawtuckaway and Lamprey Rivers in the Pawtuckaway Core Conservation Focus Area.  These are NH Fish and Game Department-designated areas of particular riparian significance for regional air and water quality, local land and water conservation, state�wide biodiversity stewardship, and conservation sci�ence and information management. The Lamprey River enjoys federal �Wild and Scenic� designation, including its path along side the parcel, and is the largest fresh water contributory to the Great Bay Estuary � one of the largest estuaries (over 10,000 acres) on the Atlantic coast.  The parcel was historically a floodplain, but construction of the Folsom Dam invited building in a breach inundation area.  While the dam lessened the frequency of flooding, it exacerbated flooding damage to the parcel.  The most recent flooding events occurred in 2005, 2006, and 2007.  When the dam could not contain the rivers, scour erosion eliminated access to the land and sediment deposits gave rise to colonization by invasive species such as Japanese Knotweed, Autumn Olive, and Multiflora Rose.   

  • In addition to the watershed significance of this parcel, it is important for the following reasons: 

  • Conservation of the property contributes to water quality, floodplain, wetlands and field habitat preservation.
  • The site is part of a 4,900-acre block of unfragmented forest (no other roads or development exist) and is a critical habitat for several wildlife �species of concern� as identified in the NH Wildlife Action Plan.
  • This Core Conservation Focus Area, as defined by NH Fish and Game in their 2006 Wildlife Action Plan, has the highest quality habitat in the biological region.  NH Fish and Game analyzed habitats by ranking the biological, landscape and human impact factors most affecting each habitat type. Biological factors include rare plant and animal species and overall biodiversity. Landscape factors include size of habitat and how close it is to other patches of that habitat. Human impact factors include density of roads around the habitat, dams, recreational use, and pollution.
  • The NH Wildlife Action Plan identified the area as a high priority for protection because of the numerous species of concern living on the site.  These include: the threatened Wood turtle, Blanding�s turtle, and Spotted turtle.
  • Conserving this parcel of land enlarges the local protected land footprint.  This parcel abuts permanently protected land on the south and west and is part of two larger conservation efforts involving the protection of the Pawtuckaway and Lamprey Rivers.

The restoration project includes: 

  • Value of the house to be removed.
  • Removal of the house and associated buildings as well as an underground fuel oil tank  (reclaimable items are being donated to Habitat for Humanity).
  • Planting permanent vegetation in disturbed.  
  • Removing invasive species.                        
  • Installing erosion control in two high traffic riparian areas.
  • Constructing stone fords to replace failed road culvert and stabilize overflow channel.
  • Removing three existing stream culverts and stabilizing banks.
  • Planting native woody species to improve wildlife habitat.
  • Installing gate or other suitable barrier to limit vehicular access.

Brian Hart, Executive Director of the Southeast Land Trust says that �the protection of the Hauser parcel is a win-win for everyone and is a great example of how conservation benefits not only the environment, but the surrounding community and our nation.  By conserving this parcel, we are meeting local, regional, and national goals of preserving important natural resources and providing flood control.  In addition, we are helping flood victims voluntarily relocate to a safe and dry location�. 

The NRCS is contributing a total of $287,182 to this project including easement acquisition and site restoration.