North Country preserve expands by 870 acres, protecting drinking water and floodplains


New Hampshire Bulletin

Published: 08-22-2023 10:33 AM

The Nature Conservancy has added another 870 acres to its Maidstone Bends Preserve on the Upper Connecticut River, and more than half of the land is located in a drinking water protection area. 

A mix of farmland, woods, wetlands, and expansive floodplains, the recent purchase expands the preserve in Northumberland and Groveton to 1,250 total acres. The state’s Fish and Game Department will hold a conservation easement on a 358-acre portion of the property. 

Together, the Nature Conservancy and Fish and Game are working to restore 250 acres of floodplain forest and riverbank habitat at the preserve, the largest project of its kind in state history. Floodplains are flat areas along a river that flood each spring, providing important water quality and habitat benefits. 

Since 2009, the Nature Conservancy in both New Hampshire and Vermont has been working to protect floodplain habitat and agricultural lands within the Maidstone Bends area along the Connecticut River. 

Close to 60 percent of the newly conserved land protects an important public drinking water source for Northumberland.

“The conservation benefits alone are exciting,” said Elizabeth Bergquist, associate director for land conservation with The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire. “But there is even more to this project, including protecting water quality by safeguarding the local drinking water recharge area, conserving important agricultural lands and soils, and providing recreation access for the community.”

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Jim Oehler, wildlife habitat program supervisor for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, said the land conservation will support a diverse array of wildlife — such as water fowl, wood turtles, bears, and bank swallows — and provide people more space to enjoy the outdoors.

The project received financial support from a federal Wildlife Restoration Grant, New Hampshire’s Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, the Open Space Institute’s Appalachian Landscapes Protection Fund, the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust, and private donors.