Monday, November 11, 2019

Governments buying Islands

USA: Another Two Private Islands Transferred into Public Hands

The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust has reached an agreement to transfer the two private islands in New Hampshire into public hands. A 311 acre farm will also be protected.

  • The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust has announced that is has reached an agreement to permanently conserve two river islands in New Hampshire
  • The announcement follows years of negotiation with the islands’ previous owner, whose ancestors settled on the land over 200 years ago
  • The conservation agreement will ensure the protection of the island’s rare flora and fauna, including bats, aquatic birds and the rate Jessup’s milkvetch
Johnson Family Farm - Photo Courtesy of NHPR.org

Johnson Family Farm – Photo Courtesy of NHPR.org

After six years of tense negotiations with private property owner Richard Johnson, non-profit organization the Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust (ACT) has finally announced that it had reached an agreement to permanently conserve a 311-acre farm and two private islands in New Hampshire.

Describing the conservation of the land as a “significant accomplishment”, ACT executive director Rebecca Brown hopes that the easement will protect the rare flora and fauna currently living on the land.

Two Private Islands and a 311-acre Farm

Located towards the east New Hampshire’s Route 135 and forming part of the Connecticut River National Scenic Byway, the Johnson property comprises a 311-acre farm with 2,000 feet of water frontage along the Connecticut River and two small river islands: North and South Island (which measure in at 2.6 and 2 acres respectively).

The property had been in the hands of the same family for over 200 years, enjoying a diverse number of uses, including dairy farming and, more recently, as a corn and hay production site. Now that the new conservation agreement is in place, however, the land will be managed by the Vermont River Conservancy.

New Plans in Place

Whilst the main aim of the agreement is to protect the islands’ rare flora and fauna (South Island in particular forms an important habitat for several species of under-threat bat breeds, numerous aquatic birds and the Jessup’s milkvetch – a rare type of plant), the Vermont River Conservancy has already announced its intent to open the island up to the public by means of a small campsite which will soon form part of the Connecticut River Paddlers Trail.

An “Important Asset”

Former owner Richard Johnson expressed his satisfaction that his lands would be preserved for future generations. “We always had in the back of our minds that when we decided to make our exit from the industry we’d like to be able to do something to preserve this great piece of land,” said Johnson, who had a considerable say in how the land should be protected.

“Our goal wasn’t to take the entire 1,100 acres and make it a natural preserve,” said Bill. “About 700 acres of this is tillable land—we realize the importance of that as an asset and that it should continue to be farmed. We tried to devise a way so that agriculture could continue alongside all of the other wonderful things that exist here.”

The South Island campsite is now open to the public as part of the Connecticut River Paddlers Trail and a farmer has since been sourced to maintain the 311-acre farm.

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