Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership continues preservation efforts

Union Leader Correspondent
November 25. 2013 8:20PM
The Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership is a program aimed at preserving a 100-mile swath of fields, forests, wetlands, lakes and rivers stretching from central Massachusetts to central New Hampshire. (Nancy Bean Foster Photo)

TEMPLE — Though the Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partnership has only been around for a decade, the effort to preserve a 100-mile swath of land from central Massachusetts to central New Hampshire has been more than a century in the making.

The Quabbin-to-Cardigan Partership, known as Q2C, is a conservation project that has brought together private landowners, conservation groups and state agencies to protect as much land as possible between the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts and Mount Cardigan at the southern edge of the White Mountain National Forest.

According to Chris Wells, senior director of strategic projects and policy for the Society to Protect New Hampshire Forests, the project to preserve land within the 100-mile corridor began long before Q2C had a name.

“There was a base of land already in conservation,” said Wells, including the Quabbin Reservoir which provides water to the city of Boston, and mountains like Monadnock, Sunapee, Kearsarge and Cardigan, all of which fall within the Q2C corridor.

Those preservation efforts have taken place over the course of more than a century, said Wells, and in 2002, the Q2C Partnership was formed to continue those efforts.

“We’re building off the base of many, many years of work,” he said.

Though there are nearly 2 million acres in the corridor, along with 200 cities and towns, the partnership is focusing its efforts on 566,000 acres of ecologically significant lands, along with an additional 438,000 acres that link or buffer the critical areas within the corridor.

Wells said the areas that are the main focus include prime agricultural land, forests and watersheds in places where development is competing, or could compete, with the protection of natural resources. Working with landowners, the partnership strives to place important parcels of land under conservation easements which preclude development but permit activities such as forestry, farming and recreation.

“We’re keeping this land from becoming subdivisions and parking lots and roads,” Wells said.

The parcels range in size from a few acres to over 1,000 acres, and each one is important to the Q2C mission, said Wells. In the last decade the Q2C Partnership has preserved over 90,000 acres in the corridor.

“We’re working on a puzzle here,” he said. “Regardless of the size, each property is a piece of the same puzzle.”

One of those puzzle pieces the partnership is currently working on putting under an easement is a 60-acre parcel of land in Temple owned by the Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm. According to Brian Hotz, vice president of land protection for the Forest Society, the Connollys have agreed to sell rights to the land, valued at $530,000, for $405,000 in order to ensure it’s protected for future generations.

But in order to make that deal happen, the Forest Society has to come up with the necessary funding, said Hotz. The society is part of the way there thanks to grants totaling $254,000, but Hotz said, “We still have quite a ways to go to raise money for this project. It’s not a done deal yet.”

Making those deals happen is the focus of the Q2C Partnership, and it’s unlikely that anyone working on preserving land in the corridor now will live to see the goal reached, but that’s OK, said Wells.

“We’re thinking across generational lines,” he said. “We want the New Hampshire we have now to still be recognizable 100 years from now.”

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