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.

Homeowner with new Pellergy wood boilerOver the past 3 and a half years, the Center has helped expand the use of Automated Wood Heat in Vermont by providing financial support or project guidance (or both) for more than 40 wood pellet boilers installations in a wide variety of settings: homes and schools, an office building, a town garage, an auto body shop, and more. This past year we also provided financial incentives to Northeast Kingdom residents for the purchase of 15 wood pellet stoves coupled with bulk pellet storage bins, a setup that brings the convenience of bulk delivery of Vermont-made wood pellets to people who are not able to switch to a central, automated wood pellet boiler.

This spring, with funding from the Northern Border Regional Commission and in partnership with the VT Clean Energy Development Fund—we’ll be contributing to three more projects: a community center in Craftsbury and two schools in the Northeast Kingdom.