May 16, 2011

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) announced today that $2.24 million has been awarded to the Androscoggin Headwaters land preservation project at Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, New Hampshire.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) awarded the money from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to purchase almost 3,000 acres of additional land that will become part of the Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge. This money comes as part of the Department of Interior’s FY2011 spending plan.

Without this newly announced funding, the success of the entire Androscoggin Headwaters project would have been jeopardized, as the current land owner was considering selling the land to developers.

“In New Hampshire, some of our state’s most important recreational lands and natural resources are under pressure. This funding will help ensure that these pristine natural lands can be enjoyed by New Englanders for generations to come,” Shaheen said. “With millions of people living within a day’s drive of New Hampshire’s North Country forests, the importance of these lands to the tourism sector of our economy cannot be overstated.”

The Androscoggin Headwaters is currently the largest unprotected property remaining in New Hampshire.  This five-phase land conservation project is intended to conserve 31,300 acres of remote lands in the headwaters of the Androscoggin River and began in the fall of 2009. It is a collaborative effort of local, state, federal and non-governmental partners to protect critical habitat and productive timberland in the Northern Forest. Once protected, the Androscoggin Headwaters property will be part of a 75,000 acre conservation area in New Hampshire and Maine. 

Shaheen has consistently pressed to get funding for the Androscoggin Headwaters conservation project. In FY2010, she secured $1 million for the project through the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. Shaheen requested this funding so that the USFWS could acquire and conserve new lands within the refuge.  Additionally, Shaheen has repeatedly pushed federal officials regarding the project, writing to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar in April and calling USFWS Director-Designate Dan Ashe earlier this month to reiterate the importance of the project.

As Governor, Shaheen signed legislation that expanded the Umbagog Lake Refuge by over 1,300 acres and acquired conservation easements for an additional 2,259 acres.

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