TROUT POND – FREEDOM FOREST
In 2004, The Friends of Trout Pond, Green Mountain Conservation Group, and the Trust for Public Land secured a purchase and sales agreement with the landowner of the Trout Pond property to acquire the land for permanent conservation. This 2,600-acre parcel of mostly wooded land, known locally as the Trout Pond property, was threatened with high-density residential development. This property is the largest parcel of undeveloped land remaining in Freedom, and is situated over the largest stratified drift aquifer in the state. Located within the Ossipee Watershed, the property includes the 21-acre pristine Trout Pond, Jackman Ridge, and Mary’s Mountain. The parcel abuts the Nature Conservancy’s West Branch Pine Barrens and the Madison Town Forest. A 58-acre parcel abutting the Trout Pond lands, known as the Stokes property, was already acquired for inclusion in this project. Protecting this wooded site will form a roughly 5,000 acre corridor of contiguous open space and conservation lands. Thanks to the leadership of U.S. Senator Judd Gregg and the entire New Hampshire Congressional delegation, $1.2 million for the purchase of the Trout Pond property made the President’s 2005 budget request and was approved by Congress. The funds were allocated through the NH Forest Legacy Program. An additional $250,000 was awarded from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) in 2003, and the Friends of Trout Pond and the town of Freedom helped to raise the remaining funding from private pledges. This project was completed in 2005, thanks to the efforts of many individuals and partner organizations.
As a temporary land owner of part of the Freedom Town Forest (Stokes Property, 56 acres) and a concerned citizens group, GMCG was actively involved in the creation of the conservation easement which is held by the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED). The Town of Freedom is the sole owner of the land now and a subcommittee of the Freedom Conservation Commission, the Forest Advisory Committee, advises on its management along with a local forester.
Forest Advisory Committee (http://www.townoffreedom.net/boardsnew/fac.htm)
The Benefits of the Trout Pond Land:
Fish and Wildlife Habitat
The abundant streams, ponds, and wetlands on the property support a diverse array of creatures. Fish species include brook trout, horned pout, shiners and smelt. Beavers have a presence on all of the watercourses on the tract. According to a local biologist, the entire property also serves as a migratory bird stopover between Ossipee Lake and the Brownfield Bog in Maine.
The property is rife with oak, beech, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry providing outstanding food resources for black bears. Other wildlife that benefit from these tree species include turkeys, small mammals, and songbirds, The property’s prolific conifer stands also provide excellent habitat for fisher and winter yarding habitat for deer and moose. The property’s mixed forests and northern hardwood stands support many of the aforementioned species, as well as bobcat, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, snowshoe hare, fox, coyote, weasel, hawks, turkey, grouse, and owls.
Managing this land as open space rather than for residential development stabilizes the tax base for the community as there are limited costs associated with maintaining unoccupied tracts of land. The Town of Freedom plans to carve out 200 acres of the 2,600-acre property for future municipal purposes. Overall, the property offers potential for sustainable forest management and remains in productive forestry.
Trails for Recreation
The land presently has a network of existing dirt roads and trails leading across the pine barrens toward Trout Pond, Mary’s Mountain, Stacy Mountain, and Blazo Mountain. All provide fascinating hiking, cross country skiing, horseback riding, and other recreational activities. Furthermore, existing trails already connect with trails on adjacent conserved lands, providing access to scenic views at Goe Hill and Bald Ledge. The short trail up Mary’s Mountain near Trout Pond provides a wonderful hike suitable for families. In addition, a network of trails and roads on the property have been popular for snowmobiling and mountain biking for many years.
The area surrounding Trout Pond has fine views of this 21-acre pond, nearby views of 1,400-foot Stacy Mountain, and distant views of the 2,000-ft Ossipee Mountain Range. Distant views of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range can be enjoyed from the broad valley formed by Cold Brook. The ledge at the top of Mary’s Mountain offers exquisite 180-degree views to the south.
Hunting, Fishing, and Boating
The property is used by a large number of hunters for deer, bear, birds, and small game. Trout Pond is a popular fishing destination. It is stocked with brook trout and also supports smelt, horned pout, and shiners. The beaver ponds along Cold Brook -and Cold Brook itself-also support trout, as well as bass and sunfish. Local fishers report that most trout caught in this area range from 6-17 inches. Trout Pond also offers opportunities for use with small boats and canoes.
A local group of people formed the Friends of Trout Pond when they saw a chance to protect a large piece of land that was planned for large-scale housing development. The mission of the Friends of Trout Pond is to facilitate the procurement of the Trout Pond property for the purpose of preserving open space in the towns of Freedom and Madison, New Hampshire.