CONCORD, NH – With facilitating support from The Conservation Fund, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) purchased approximately 3,181 acres of land in Newport, Croydon, and Grantham earlier this month. The expanse will be known as the William B. Ruger Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and was acquired to protect its outstanding wildlife and water resources and to provide the public with recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, and nature study.
Sugar River Project Regional Conservation (NH Fish & Game)
The WMA is divided into two separate parcels. While they do not abut, they are situated close to one another in the watershed of the North Branch of the Sugar River, a tributary of the Connecticut River.
Parcel one, known as Ruger WMA South, is comprised of 1,905 acres located in the towns of Newport and Croydon, and has over 143 acres of diverse wetlands including over 40 acres of emergent marsh and 19 acres of peatland. The property contains nearly seven miles of streams including 2.8 miles of coldwater stream. Present are also a 20-acre field and a power line corridor that adds to the diversity of the habitats on the parcel.
Parcel two, known as Ruger WMA North, is a tract of 1,276 acres located in the towns of Croydon and Grantham. Ash Swamp Brook and its tributaries run through the property, and there are approximately 113 wetland acres including 59 acres of northern swamp and 83 acres of wet meadow and shrub wetlands. The largest wetland on the property is a 50-acre alder swamp containing several areas of open water.
“The protection of this property was very important because it includes a range of differing types of habitat that can support a diversity of wildlife species,” explained Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau. “A property of this size affords the opportunity to improve habitats through field and forest management that will have tremendous benefits to local wildlife populations.”
With a total project cost of $3.4 million, the partners used a combination of funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) grant program, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Service’s (NHDES) Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund, the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP), and the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Habitat Account.
“By conserving this land and enabling the state to establish the William B. Ruger WMA, we are creating new opportunities for public access and, as a result, supporting the economies and community vitality of the surrounding towns,” said Sally Manikian, The Conservation Fund’s Vermont and New Hampshire Representative. “We appreciate the foresight and commitment of the Ruger family to see this landscape protected in perpetuity.”
“Through the Wildlife Restoration grant program, we are able to work with partners to support crucial projects like the William B. Ruger Wildlife Management Area,” said Colleen Sculley, Regional Chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. “These crucial grant funds come from excise taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment and directly support enhancing and expanding public access and conservation. The acquisition and protection of these lands highlights the important role hunters, anglers, and boaters play in the conservation of fish and wildlife in this country.”