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New Wildlife Management Area Open to Public in Wakefield NH

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WAKEFIELD, N.H. - A new, 122-acre  Wildlife Management Area on Marsh Road in Wakefield has been conserved through  the collaborative work of N.H. Fish and Game, Moose Mountains Regional  Greenways, the Town of Wakefield Conservation Commission and the Society for  the Protection of N.H. Forests.

N.H. Fish and Game acquired the  property to protect its outstanding wildlife and water resources, and to  provide the public with recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing,  hiking and nature study.  Conserving the  property brings protection to more than a mile of shoreline on the Branch River  and Union Meadows.

"The Branch River is home to the  bridle shiner, a state threatened species, and the lower stretch of the river  along the property is great waterfowl habitat, as is all of Union  Meadows," said Rich Cook, a N.H. Fish and Game land agent. "This property has  been identified in the state's Wildlife Action Plan as the  highest ranked habitat in the State by ecological condition."

Town of Wakefield Conservation  Commissioners Dave Mankus and Peter Kasprzyk worked with the landowner, who  expressed an interest in conserving the property and offered to sell it at  below market value.

"Folks on the  Wakefield Conservation Commission worked very hard to make this project happen,"  Mankus said. "We negotiated with the landowner and lined up surveys and  appraisals, wrote grants, and did much of the work it takes to complete a  project of this size.  We are very happy  that it is now over the finish line."

WSFR ProgramFunds for the purchase came from a  variety of sources.  Moose Mountains  Regional Greenways helped write grants to raise funds for the purchase of the  property and also contributed more than $18,000 from its own conservation fund  to cover expenses for surveys, appraisals and legal work.  Other funders were N.H. Fish and Game, which  allocated $100,000 of federal Wildlife Restoration funds to the purchase; the  Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), which awarded a $50,000  grant for the project; and the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP),  which provided $4,000.

Designating the property a Wildlife  Management Area permanently protects it from future development. 'When you walk  in off the Marsh Road entrance you are very quickly in a different  world, high on a natural gravel berm deposited by the glaciers, with the Branch  River rushing by below.  It is a truly  special property and now it will remain available for the public to enjoy  forever," said Keith Fletcher, Director of Land Conservation for Moose  Mountains Regional Greenways.

The Society for the Protection of  New Hampshire Forests acted on behalf of Fish and Game to acquire the  property.  But Forest Society land  protection land specialist Mike Speltz, who brought the deal to completion,  credited the landowners for making the project happen.  "In the end it was the generosity of Ginny  Harding and her friend Flora Belle Weber, and their love for this land, that  made this possible," Speltz said.

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