On behalf of the Northern Border Regional Commission, the Center brought together public and private funders from across the region to take part in a day-long forum on the regional forest economy. More than 80 people attended, representing six federal agencies, 12 foundations, and seven Congressional offices, plus a variety of state and community partners. 

The Border Commission contracted the Center to develop and facilitate the event, with the goals of helping participants:

Joe Short facilitates NBRC Forum on Forest Economy crpd

    • understand the economic status and trends of core regional forest sectors and socio-demographic trends in forest-based communities;
    • learn about promising innovation and investment strategies for strengthening the forest economy and communities that depend on it; and
    • network with other public and private funders, with an eye toward opportunities for collaboration and co-investment.

The MTB Collaborative has awarded its first three mini-grants to help expand mountain bike trail networks and make more trails accessible to novice mountain bikers in the region. The Collaborative has awarded the grants to:

MTB Collaborative thumbs up

  • PRKR MTN Trails in Littleton, NH, to make some of its trails easier and more appealing to aa wider range of riders, including young people.
  • The Coos Cycling Club to add three miles of new, hand-built trail that will expand its network on the north slope of Pine Mountain in Gorham, NH. 
  • Mahoosuc Pathways in Bethel, Maine, to add to its Bethel Village Trails this summer as part of an expansion that will eventually grow its network to 15 total miles of multi-use trails that start right from the village center. 

For three years, the Center has been working with UNH Cooperative Extension and the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions on a comprehensive inventory of all town owned land in the state. The survey portion of the project is complete and reveals some impressive statistics:

  • New Hampshire towns own 1,435 forested parcels that are 10 acres or more in size.
  • Town-owned properties cover 158,455 acres, equal to 3% of New Hampshire's forested land. (For comparison, Vermont communities own about 70,000 acres of forestland.)
  • Most town land (63%) is being managed for multiple uses including wildlife habitat, recreation, water or wetland protection, timber production and education.
  • 109,660 acres (69%) are permanently protected, which is considerably more than we anticipated.

Joe Presents to Ag Committee Staff DC 2017

The federal budget and the Farm Bill support programs that provide important services for and investment in the Northern Forest. This year Congress is addressing the Farm Bill, which typically renews every five years, and recently approved a new federal budget and Omnibus spending bill. Through our public policy program and leadership of a national network of rural interests, the Center has advocated for elements of both bills to serve the region.

The federal Omnibus spending bill passed in March contained a lot of good news for programs that are important to the Northern Forest:

  • $15 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission (up from $10 million), including $3 million for initiatives that seek to address the decline in forest-based economies throughout the region;
  • $3 million for the Economic Development Administration to collaborate with the Northern Border Regional Commission to support the development of markets for wood products;
  • $600 million for rural broadband;
  • Funding for the Community Forest Program doubled to $4 million. This program has supported the creation of Community Forests in Easton/Sugar Hill/Franconia/Landaff, NH; Barre, VT; and Milan, NH.
  • Sustained funding for many USDA Rural Development programs, which had been targeted for elimination.
  • A “fire fix,” beginning in federal fiscal year 2020, that is intended to ensure stable and responsible funding for federal firefighting activities without eroding budgets that support other parts of the Forest Service mission (such as forest stewardship and state and private forestry.
  • An increase in Forest Legacy program funding by $4.65 million, which will help protect productive forestland from development or other non-forest uses.