Stoddard Conservation Commission Announces $110,000 Match for Land Project
Stoddard Conservation Commission Announces $110,000 Match for Land Project

Stoddard Conservation Commission Announces $110,000 Match for Land Project

Press Release
February 9, 2023

Stoddard Conservation Commission Announces $110,000 Match for Land Project
The Stoddard conservation commission has received a $110,000 1:1 matching grant from four anonymous
donors to protect an iconic tract of land in Stoddard that has taken the name “Little Big Forest”.
In April 2021, three adjacent lots totaling 40-acres of ecologically significant, undeveloped land with 4,000 feet
of shoreline at the southern end of Highland Lake went on the market. The Stoddard Conservation
Commission investigated what could be done to acquire, protect and manage this land for the benefit of the
residents and visitors of Stoddard, and to preserve the land’s outstanding ecological, recreational, and wildlife
habitat values.

Verbal Approval

In July of 2021, the owner Steven Wilson, Kensington, CT gave verbal approval to the commission to pursue a
conservation outcome.
It would take 9 months of negotiation before a signed Option Agreement was obtained in May of 2022. The
purchase price, as stipulated in the OA, “shall be no higher than $1.3 million dollars”.
An October, 2022 appraisal (field work conducted in August, 2022) determined the value at $1,335,000: a
bargain sale for the town.
Another $200 thousand in estimated project costs brings the total cost to protect the “Little Big Forest” to $1.5
million dollars.
In anticipation of a major fundraising event, the commission obtained several letters of support from
community organizations, including the unanimous support from the Stoddard Board of Selectmen.

Raised to date

Over the course of 2022, multiple sources for funding were researched and applied for. Here is what has been
raised to date:
 The U.S. Forest Service-Community Forest Grant Program awarded the LBF a $600,000; one of only 12
projects funded nationwide;
 The New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) Board of Directors
“unanimously awarded the LBF a $400,000” grant from LCHIP;
 NH State Conservation Committee Conservation Moose Plate Grant Program awarded the LBF $30,000;
 Several local groups have invested in the LBF, including:

 The Bailey Foundation (a Delaware non-profit with NH connections): $40,000
 The Putnam Foundation: $25,000
 Ashuelot River Hydro: $20,000
 The Fidelity Charitable Fund (Ariel Phillips and Gwyndaf Jones): $5,000
 The Lesser Foundation (Island Pond): $3,000
 The Keene Lions Club: $1,000
 The Highland Lake Unified Association: $1,000

Matching Grant

In addition, over 150 individual donations have been received totaling $130,766. The $110,000 matching grant
(1:1 dollar donation match) was established to encourage residents and recreational users of Stoddard’s
conservation lands, who may harbor “cautious concerns” to invest in the ecological and recreational
importance of the LBF.
Conservation Commission Chairman Geoffrey T. Jones said he’s “thankful that land conservation is still a
priority for federal and state agencies amidst inflation, nervousness about the economy, political difficulties

and the war in Ukraine. It is amazing to think that people still value land protection under these tumultuous
circumstances, which is deeply gratifying and humbling” Jones said.
NH Association of Conservation Commissions executive director Barbara Richter says that it is “very unusual
for any town to undertake a land protection initiative of this size and complexity”. She further adds that “their
success is an inspiration to all”.

Balance Remaining

To date, $1,231,841 has been raised, leaving a balance of $143,433 remaining to complete the $1.5 million dollar
project. The $110,000 1:1 match will be available for all donations until May 30, 2023.
The closing is scheduled for June, 30, 2023.

$143,433.65 to go!

Check out the Project Profile here

For further information contact:
Geoffrey Jones, chair Stoddard conservation commission
PO Box, 336
Stoddard, NH. 03464
Tel. # 603-446-3439

Click here to donate today!


  1. What is this all about the highland lake association has been doing fine,I own property their , and it has been in the family for eighty years, No Change, Keep it like Mother Nature intended, un developed , the way it is. She takes care of everything.

    1. Hello Eric,
      My apologies for not getting back sooner, I was on vacation.
      To address your comment, The Little Big Forest is currently 3 privatley held lots on the southeast section of Highland Lake including the peninsula near the sandbar. In 2021 the current owners put his land on the market and advertised it as potential for 20+ building lots.
      Our (Stoddard Conservation Commission) goal is to purchase the lots in order to prevent the loss of the 4000 feet of shoreline and preserve the old forest that is there.
      Per the grants we have received from the US Forestry Service and New Hampshire LCHIP, the land will be owned by the town and accessible to the public.

  2. If this is to keep the area pristine fine( but knowadays wording can screw everything up) sorry I live in mass and they can steal land rite from under you ( sorry just do not trust anyone any more ) ❤️Highland lake Rocks!!)I if this is good for us owners please tell me and I will be all in, let’s see. Eric S.

    1. Geri Bailey

      Hi Eric,
      I was the primary grantwriter for the USDA Community Forest grant and awards were based upon community as well as other ecological, wildlife, and forest learning benefits. We were awarded the highest amount possible and were one of eleven nationwide grantees. The beneficiaries are broad – in addition to our Highland Lake owners, our downstream neighbors are protected; our children (seasonal and full-time) will have more opportunities to learn about nature; and people who may not have lake frontage will have a paddling destination point from which they can embark on trail adventures. In short it’s good for everyone!

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