During its design phase, Northern Pass sought to avoid and minimize impacts to wetlands along the proposed route whenever possible. However, environmental studies revealed that some wetlands will be impacted from construction and operation of the project. Working with various agencies, and in accordance with state and federal law, Northern Pass has dedicated 1,627 acres of approved land for wetland mitigation – exceeding the state and federal requirements for wetlands mitigation the project must meet.
Northern Pass has worked with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to identify land that could be part of the Northern Pass mitigation plan and would also provide additional benefits to other conservation and restoration efforts around the state. The mitigation package includes eight conservation sites which are valued for having numerous wetlands, floodplains, streams, vernal pools, or are connected to other conservation lands.
Included in the 1,627 acres of conservation land is a 7-acre parcel in Concord that will be used to establish additional protected habitat for the endangered Karner blue butterfly. Although it is New Hampshire’s state butterfly, the only place where Karner blue butterflies are known to live in the state is the Pine Barrens near the Concord airport. The Northern Pass parcel is located adjacent to an existing 28-acre conservation easement specifically dedicated to establishing Karner blue butterfly habitat, and will help expand the efforts already underway to preserve this species.
Highest Ranked Habitats
Much of the land Northern Pass has dedicated to the mitigation package specifically addresses local and regional conservation goals. They include corridors for lynx, marten and other wildlife, habitats for moose and Northern long-eared bat, deer wintering areas, large forest blocks for forest breeding birds, and a mix of land types from wetlands and early successional forests to mature forests and high-elevation habitat. Six sites, totaling 1,533 acres are located in the North Country and are adjacent to or near other undeveloped land that offer opportunities for hiking, hunting and fishing.
The sites in the mitigation plan stand out for the significant conservation opportunities they present the state. Approximately 700 acres are considered Highest Ranked Habitat, a determination made by New Hampshire Fish and Game. This designation indicates land that contains wildlife habitat in the best relative condition in the state or region, considering the location of key species, the landscape setting, and the impact humans have had on the area.
The following nine parcels will be preserved as part of the Northern Pass Wetland Mitigation Package:
|Hall Stream Road Site||Pittsburg||46.5 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, with forest and farmland|
|Connecticut River Site||Pittsburg||550 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat with high-quality wetlands|
|Haynes Road Site||Clarksville||153 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, Deer Wintering Area|
|Wiswell Road Site||Clarksville||211 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, offers protection for key species|
|Roaring Brook Headwaters Site||Dixville/Columbia||444 acres||High elevation, adjacent to large contiguous parcels, including Nash Stream Forest|
|Cedar Brook Site||Stewartstown||129 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, high-quality wetland|
|Brush Road Forest Site||Pembroke||87 acres||Highest Ranked Habitat, vernal pools, preserves open space near urban area|
|*Pine Barrens||Concord||7||Pine Barrens is a Highest Ranked Habitat in the Region|
Supporting NH’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund
As part of its wetlands permitting package, Northern Pass will also make a $3 million payment to NH’s Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund (ARM) to cover impacts in the towns and watersheds outside of the communities where the Northern Pass conservation lands will be located.
The ARM Fund is managed by DES, which allocates grants to support projects that restore, enhance and preserve aquatic resources and upland buffers. Since 2007, the ARM Fund has been used to restore a variety of wetland habitats, conserve more than 12,000 acres of land, restore 100 acres of wetland, and improve more than 45 miles of streams.