- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte are asking the United States Forest Service to reinstate funds for the Milan Community Forest Project after a $400,000 grant was rescinded to pay for wildfire suppression.

The project will create a new 1,300-acre forest by consolidating town lots with three new parcels of land. It will serve as an outdoor recreation area and provide a source of municipal income from sustainable timber harvesting.

In a letter Thursday to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Shaheen said as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, she supported efforts to include $700 million for Fiscal Year 2016 to replenish forest accounts affected by the borrowing of funds for wildfire suppression. She requests that the Milan project be replenished, saying matching funds are in jeopardy without the $400,000 grant.

“Projects such as these are critically important to New Hampshire’s economy, where the outdoor recreation industry accounts for $4.2 billion in consumer spending, $1.2 billion in wages and salaries and nearly 50,000 jobs,” Shaheen wrote.

Ayotte, in her letter to Tidwell, said “the Town of Milan and its partners have been working on this project for several years and were thrilled that it was awarded a Community Forest Project grant in May. I look forward to working with you to ensure that the community’s vision becomes a reality very soon.”

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