The Jackson Ski Touring Foundation (JSTF) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have partnered to permanently preserve 120 acres of open space in Jackson, NH between Green Hill Rd. and Rt. 16 abutting White Mountain National Forest Lands. At the junction of Valley Cross and Black Mountain Roads, the land consists of woodland and rolling open fields with more than 500 feet of frontage on the Ellis River.
On July 5, 2017, a USDA NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) was officially placed on the property ensuring its protection in perpetuity. The purpose of the WRE program is to provide technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands, including: fish and wildlife and their habitat, water quality improvement, groundwater recharge, open space, aesthetic values, and environmental education. Wetland Reserve Easements cover 100% of the conservation easement and restoration costs for eligible land and landowners. This easement is one of 127 wetland easements totaling over 12,000 acres conserved in NH by the NRCS and its landowner partners.
A tax-exempt, nonprofit organization, Jackson Ski Touring Foundation provides recreational and competitive opportunities for cross country skiing and snowshoeing that enrich lives and promote healthy lifestyles for all ages.
The NRCS has been the lead conservation agency in the USDA for over 80 years, working cooperatively with soil conservationists, technicians, soil scientists, agronomists, engineers, economists, biologists, foresters and other experts to help landowners and land users with conservation. NRCS gives technical assistance based on sound science suited to a customer's specific needs and works closely with local partners. Participation in NRCS programs is voluntary and financial incentives are available in some cases.
“This collaboration with NRCS was an opportunity not to be missed for Jackson Ski Touring. While maintaining a vast trail network and promoting a healthy and active lifestyle through the sport of cross country skiing and snowshoeing remains our mission, we are just as passionate about natural resource conservation”, said Breanne Torrey, Jackson Ski Touring Executive Director with the board of JSTF. “In order to be successful in achieving our mission for this generation and for all the generations to come, we recognize that it is not the snow, but rather the land that snow falls upon that is the foundation purpose. As an organization, we are thrilled to make this investment in our community by ensuring that this landscape and our ski trails will be permanently protected, remaining undeveloped, to be enjoyed by all.”
Often a landowner’s first contact with the NRCS is with the local field office in their county. Breanne reached out to the NRCS in Conway, NH to create a conservation plan that included an NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) contract for a Forest Management Plan that was written by the late Dr. Mike Cline. This led to discussions about protecting and restoring the land with a Wetland Reserve Easement. Nels Liljedahl, NRCS District Conservationist said, “working for the NRCS caused me to look at the land of this organization with a different perspective other than that of a skier.”
Understanding the importance of this land, Nels called in the NRCS easement specialists, Sue Knight and Brooke Smart. Sue worked closely with Breanne to navigate the conservation easement process. Now that the easement is in place, Brooke will make sure that the degraded wetlands are restored.