Help the Forest Society protect 5,800 acres in Dixville Notch, NH

Help the Forest Society protect 5,800 acres in Dixville Notch, NH

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Forest Society Closes Balsams Transaction

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests completed a transaction today with the Tillotson Corporation  today that conserves much of the land surrounding the historic BALSAMS Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch, NH. The Forest Society acquired conservation restrictions that will forever protect the working forest, habitat, scenic views, and 30 miles of recreational trails that the public and BALSAMS guests have enjoyed for decades.

“We have long sought to protect this special place in New Hampshire,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “We are grateful to the more than 1,500 donors who stepped forward to collectively contribute the $850,000 we needed to make this happen. We are equally pleased that the board of the Tillotson Corporation gave us the opportunity to conserve this land.

“We have already developed a strong working relationship with the hotel’s new owners, who own the now-protected land,” Difley said. “Like everyone else, we want to see them succeed in renovating and re-opening the hotel.”

As part of the transaction, the Forest Society also acquired a deeded transmission line right-of-way coveted by the controversial Northern Pass proposal. By acquiring both the conservation restrictions and the powerline ROW, the Forest Society effectively removed the threat that Northern Pass would be able to cross the 5,800 conserved acres without eminent domain.

“While we began this project because of the extraordinary natural attributes of the land, in the end I think this campaign also became a referendum on Northern Pass,” Difley said. “We received donations from far and wide and in many cases those donors told us that they were driven by a desire to stop the Northern Pass proposal.”

Susanne Kibler-Hacker, vp of development,
 signing paperwork at the closing.
The more than 1,500 donations ranged from $1 to $150,000. Donations came from all over New Hampshire, but appreciation of the Balsams landscape was evident nationwide as gifts were received from 22 states including Hawaii, Arizona, California and other far-flung locales, as well as from Quebec, Canada.

A purchase-and-sale agreement signed in December gave the Forest Society until Jan. 15 to raise the $850,000 necessary to close the transaction. The conservation restrictions will prohibit further subdivision and commercial development while allowing sustainable forestry and recreational access.

The land that is now protected surrounds the site of the hotel. The land immediately adjacent to the hotel, the golf course and the Wilderness ski area are not part of the conserved area. The conserved land will include the popular outlook known as Table Rock that offers a spectacular vista across Coos County to Maine, Vermont and Canada. The 30 miles of recreational trails include hiking and snowmobiling trails as well as a section of the Cohos Trail that runs from Crawford Notch in the White Mountains to the Canadian border in Pittsburg.

Other conservation values include wildlife habitat for rare species such as American Marten and Bicknell’s Thrush, extensive water resources such as Mud Pond, healthy, well managed stands of sugar maple and areas of likely old growth forest.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Thanks to the generosity of more than 1,500 donors, the Forest Society is pleased to report that we have raised the $850,000 needed to conserve the landscape surrounding the historic Balsams Grand Resort Hotel in Dixville Notch. The fundraising deadline was Jan. 15.

"Given what a special place Dixville Notch is, we felt from the start that people would respond to our call to conserve it," said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. "But to be honest we had no inkling that the public interest is protecting these 5,800 acres would be so strong. We've had so many emails and calls from people offering to help any way they could. I can't thank everyone enough, including the Tillotson Corporation for choosing to work with us to conserve the land. We believe, as they do, that this outcome is in the best interests of the North Country and, indeed, all of New Hampshire."

Interest in the Balsams conservation project ballooned when Northern Pass, LLC, attempted to interfere with the transaction, arguing that siting its proposed private, commercial HVDC overhead transmission line project was a better fit.

The 1500-plus gifts ranged from a few dollars to $150,000. The number of gifts is greater by far than any other conservation project in modern Forest Society history.

"Based on the notes and comments we've received along with donations, it's evident that many people saw the Balsams landscape campaign as a referendum on Northern Pass," Difley said. "Our success is one more strong statement by those who understand the true value of New Hampshire's forested landscape: the proposed Northern Pass transmission line is not wanted and offers little or no benefit to the state."

Forest Society staff and its attorneys are working on the paperwork required to complete the transaction within the next week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Save the Balsams Gifts Continue to Flow: 1300 Donors, $817,000

With 48 hours left before the deadline in the Save the Balsams Landscape campaign, more than 1,300 donors have expressed their desire to see the forests surrounding the historic Dixville Notch protected by making gifts small and large. We at the Forest Society are humbled by so much generosity and so many good wishes. We asked others to help us get the word out about the opportunity to protect this iconic landscape and everyone has continued to do so. Thank you.

And it is working. We have raised $817,000 toward our $850,000 goal. This latest total includes a generous $25,000 gift that was confirmed today, leaving $33,000 to go by Sunday, Jan. 15. For those still interested in making a donation to the Balsams campaign, you can do so via our website (click the Donate Now button to the right of this post) or by sending a check to Forest Society, 54 Portsmouth St., Concord, NH  03801 (just mark "Balsams campaign" on the check).