A proposal for a wind-powered generating facility on the 23,781-acre Phillips Brook industrial forest is dashing immediate hopes of a $3.5 million permanent conservation easement on the parcel.
Officials with the Society for the Protection of N.H. Forests confirmed that the easement – considered a keystone in a 180,000-acre forest between Milan and Dixville Notch in Coos County, and the state’s top priority for funding from the federal Forest Legacy Program for 2008 – is out for now.
“They are looking at a wind power generation proposal and Forest Legacy easements prohibit the construction of commercial structures on land under such an easement,” said Jack Savage, spokesman for the society, who confirmed reports that the land managers want to pursue wind opportunities instead of federally funded easements.
The development moves three other projects to the top of the state’s list for the Forest Legacy funds: the Ossipee Pine Barrens, a large tract near the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation center in Greenfield, and Green Acres, a massive woodlot in Grafton County extending from Lyme to Dorchester and Wentworth.
“There was no guarantee we were getting the money for Phillips Brook anyway,” Savage said yesterday. He confirmed that GMO Renewable Resources, LLC, which manages the massive Phillips Brook tract for wood products, had withdrawn its federal application.
GMORR Director Bob Saul said it will take some time to work out a boundary between the proposed conservation easement and the acreage required for a potential wind-power project. The idea for the easement is still out there, he said, but it can’t immediately go forward.
The Forest Society’s Savage said, “We are disappointed as well because we have been working on this for a dozen years. This is the closest we have got but we understand it is about willing landowners and we will continue working along those lines,” he said.
The Forest Society supports wind power in concept, he said, “but there is still a lot of issues about appropriate siting. We would want to look at what the pros and cons are,” he said.
By Paula Tracy
Union Leader Staff
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