WHAT DOES

NHACC Do?

NHACC is a nonprofit conservation organization that provides education and assistance to New Hampshire's local conservation commissions.

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WHAT DO

Conservation Commissions do?

Conservation commissions are local conservation volunteers who work to study and protect natural resources.

Conservation commissions are very active in New Hampshire!

Click here to read more!

HOW

You Can Help.

Volunteer.
Invest In Your Local Community.
Consider Land Conservation.
And Above All - VOTE!

Click here to read about the many ways that you can help conservation in New Hampshire.

Conservation News and Events

3/4/21 Legislative Update

Legislative Update March 2021

 At NHACC, we work in the legislature and on state committees to ensure conservation commissions are represented. We are keeping an eye on proposed legislation and tracking proposed bills that would affect conservation commissions or natural resources in NH. Please review the links to the general court website and let me know if you have any concerns or comments on these proposed bills.

 

 HB 82 This is a bill that I am most concerned about. This bill would allow conservation easement between state and landowners to be amended.  The proposed language amends RSA 477:46: NH does not need to change the law (RSA 477:46) to allow for amendments. Towns and conservation districts could face extensive legal battles that would impact their ability to protect natural resource in NH. Reviewing amendment request and working with the NH Attorney Generals Charitable Trust Unit would require extensive legal expenses and could bankrupt County Conservation Districts. NHACC opposes this bill. It was retained in committee in March.

HB 158– This bill seeks to expand what wetlands would qualify for consideration as a “prime wetland,” to include narrow portions with 4 or more primary wetland functions.  Existing state highway rights-of-way will be excluded. A prime wetland is designated and voted on at the municipal level and designated by NH Dept. of Environmental Services.   NHACC provided written testimony in support of this bill.

HB 172 AN ACT establishing greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for the state and establishing a climate action plan. This bill establishes greenhouse gas emission reduction goals for the state and authorizes the department of environmental services to inventory greenhouse gas emissions on an annual basis and to develop and report on a 5-year action plan.  A similar bill was presented last year but was dropped due to COVID.

HB177 prohibiting the siting of a landfill near a state park. This bill would create a 2-mile setback for siting a landfill next to a NH State Park was proposed in response to the proposed landfill development between Bethlehem and Dalton. The NHACC Legislative Committee recommends we sign in support of this bill. This bill was voted ITL in committee.

HB 199 Relative to soil health and soil conservation in the state soil conservation plan. The purpose of this bill is to preserve and improve soil fertility and soil health through soil conservation plans. It proposes amendments to RSA 432:3 to include the language “and soil health; to promote mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.” 

HB 315 relative to the aggregation of electric customers. Eversource is now pushing for legislation that would impact the potential for Community Power in our state energy system by removing municipalities ability to have local control and save on energy costs, increase resilience, and generate more renewable energy. It sounds like it removes the net metering option for local energy producers.  The NHACC Legislative Committee recommends we sign in opposition to this bill.

HB 426 This bill requires an assessment study for certain septic systems prior to the sale of certain developed waterfront properties. This recommendation came out of the Shoreland Septic Study Commission that NHACC sat on last year. The Commission made several recommendations including “Within this Waterfront Protection Zone, require both a site assessment and septic system evaluation before a property is sold or transferred, with the relevant reports a required disclosure to prospective buyers. These reports should also be provided to the municipality and NHDES.” NHACC provided written testimony in support of this bill.

HB 621 Will impact money going to LCHIP by allowing registers of deeds to retain a portion of the land and community heritage investment program surcharge. LCHIP is funded by a modest $25 deed registration fee. It has funded many exceptional land conservation projects in NH and it is the only state source of funding for land protection. Diverting funds from this small fee would result in fewer project being funded through this program.   NHACC signed in at the public hearing opposing this bill.

SB 48 relative to the formula used to determine current use tax rates.
This bill provides that the formula used by the department of revenue administration and current use board to determine current use tax rates shall not be considered confidential and shall be available to the public. It was voted ought to pass in committee. NHACC will continue to watch this bill.

SB129 relative to minimizing environmental impacts on the habitats of endangered or threatened species. An amendment to this bill provided for mitigation funds for impacts to T&E species. NHACC has some concerns this bill undermines the Endangered Species Act by allowing State agencies to write a policy that exempts them from protecting T&E. This bill was voted Ought to Pass by the Senate in March. We will follow this bill in the House.

Additional bills of interest RSA 91-A Right-to-Know laws

HB108 AN ACT relative to minutes and decisions in nonpublic sessions under the right-to-know law. This bill requires that for meetings in nonpublic session where the minutes or decisions were determined to not be subject to public disclosure, a list shall be kept which shall include certain information.  The list shall be made available for public disclosure.

HB216 AN ACT relative to public notice of and access to meetings under the right to know law. This bill establishes requirements for remote access to public meetings under RSA 91.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4/6/20 Virtual Meetings and RSA 91-A

Virtual Meeting and RSA 91-A

Reminder: Right-to-Know laws allow for call-in/on-line meetings during an emergency. In an effort to comply with social distancing, many meetings are now going on-line or offering call-in options.  While this is an alternative for conservation commission meetings, it is important to remember that Right-to-Know laws still need to be followed. Please see Governor Chris Sununu Memo to New Hampshire Municipal Officials, State Boards, and Commissions Regarding Compliance with Right to Know Law and compliance with RSA 91-A during the current health emergency.  Even when members are participating electronically, the meeting should be properly noticed 24 hours in advance. For more information on public meetings go to RSA 91-A:2. For guidance and checklist on emergency meetings go to DOJ website.
 

Additionally, the Governor issued
an emergency order regarding municipal meetings.

Emergency Order #23 - Temporary modification of municipal and local government statutory requirements. In response to the public health emergency, Executive Order 2020-04, and the other emergency orders related to COVID-19, many New Hampshire municipalities are operating through a limited or "virtual" manner; and… These challenges require municipal and local governmental bodies to have flexibility in order to remain operational. Specific items for land use boards to be aware of:

  • Municipal and local governmental bodies are relieved from any statutory, local, or charter provisions requiring them to meet on a particular schedule or a certain number of times within a given time frame during the emergency declaration
  • For all land use boards, application deadlines, calendars, and timeframes for decisions are suspended.
3/5/20 Legislative Update March 2020

Bills to Watch

At NHACC, we work in the legislature and on state committees to ensure conservation commissions are represented. We are keeping an eye on proposed legislation and tracking proposed bills that would affect conservation commissions or natural resources in NH. Please review the links to the general court website and let me know if you have any concerns or comments on these proposed bills.

NHACC Supports these bill in the 2020 legislative session

SB 491 – regarding Shoreland water quality. This bill will increase the natural woodland buffer standard from 25% to 50% on lots larger than one-half acre. This increase will safeguard our public waters and ensure they are sufficiently protected against polluted runoff, while still allowing property owners to easily enjoy shorefront homes, views, and investments, and clean and healthy lakes.  NHACC supports this bill and provided testimony at committee hearing at the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This bill was recently amended with language that makes the buffer area hard to calculate.  Senate voted ought to pass with an amendment SB491 Amendment.

HB 1124 – This bill seeks to expand what wetlands would qualify for consideration as a “prime wetland,” to include narrow portions with 4 or more primary wetland functions. A prime wetland is designated and voted on at the municipal level and designated by NH Dept. of Environmental Services. This bill is now in the House Resources, Recreation & Development Committee. NHACC supported this bill last year but it was vetoed by the Governor.  We provided written testimony in support of the expanded definition again this year.
 
HB1571 Relative to the qualifications for the members of the fish and game commission.  Currently, New Hampshire statutes (RSA 206:2) only allows “sporting clubs” to nominate NH Fish and Game Commissioners and requires each nominee to be “an active outdoorsman holding a resident fishing, hunting, or trapping license in at least 5 of the 10 years preceding the appointment”. HB 1571 removes these requirements and will allow other relevant NH organizations to nominate commissioners. Expanding representation will ensure that Fish and Game’s governing body, the Commission, has broader expertise to address the critical issues that face our state regarding wildlife protection, land conservation, and resource management. The House Fish & Game and Marine Resource Committee amended HB1571 .  NHACC signed on in support of this bill. 

SB 590 An Act establishing a committee to develop science-based emissions reduction goals for the state of New Hampshire. This bill takes the important step of developing science-based emission reduction goals for New Hampshire, establishing the needed foundation for the state to plan and implement actions to mitigate climate change and its significant consequences for the health of New Hampshire’s environment, people, and economy. This bill is currently in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. NHACC signed on in support of this bill.

Other Bills to Watch

HB 1562 Relative to including soil heath and soil conservation in the state soil conservation plan. The purpose of this bill is to preserve and improve soil fertility and soil health through soil conservation plans. It proposes amendments to RSA 432:3 to include the language “and soil health; to promote mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.” The bill also redefines soil health practices for Conservation Districts. This bill was referred to the Environment and Agriculture Committee. It was voted ought to pass with  HB 1562 amendment.

HB 1664-FN Establishing a climate Action Plan and an office of the environmental advocate and an oversight commission on environmental services. This bill sets targets to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions. The House voted Ought to Pass with amendment.

 

LCHIP

Two LCHIP bills have been proposed this session.

SB617 An additional charge of $25, or a voluntary additional charge, $35, to fund LCHIP. This bill was voted inexpedient to legislate.

SB493 relative to register of deeds fees used to support the land and community heritage investment program (LCHIP), and establishing a committee to study the economic impact of land conservation and to review the LCHIP surcharge. This would increase the LCHIP fee from $25 to $35.

Last year the Governor Sununu vetoed a similar bill and will likely do so again.  It was suggested that an additional $500,00 go to LCHIP in the next two-year state budget.  Sununu says he will consider this appropriation.

 OHRV

HB1316 proposes to open up additional trails to OHRVs in the Nash Stream State Forest as well in Coleman State Park.  Legislation know as ride the wilds in committee.  This bill was recently amended to allow ATVS on Hoit Rd Marsh in Concord NH.

Land Use

HB 1692, which would establish a certification process for mushroom foragers seeking to sell foraged mushrooms commercially and includes landowner notification. This bill is supported by SPNHF and TOA and Farm Bureau.

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee has amended HB1692 establishing a license for mushroom harvesters. It has been referred to the Executive Dept. and Administration committee.

SB487 repealing the housing appeals board and establishing a commission to advance affordable housing in New Hampshire. The Senate Committee Election Law and Municipal Affairs voted ITL.  It goes to the Senate floor March 5.

 Another bill to repeal the housing board is SB 735 . This bill was also voted ITL in committee.  It goes to the Senate floor March 5.

What you can do:

  • Stay informed, NHACC will continue to send out updates.
  • Write letters to House Committees or testify at hearings.
  • Be able to act quickly, call your legislators with concerns.
  • Meet with your legislators once a year or better yet, invite them to a conservation commission meeting.
  • Letters do not follow the legislative process so you will need to continue to provide your comments and concerns to both House and Senate and subsequent committees.

For more information on State Legislation, go to the General Court website and search for proposed bills.

2/13/20 Regional Events

Regional Events for Conservation Commissions

NHACC is working with local conservation groups to provide more training and networking opportunities to conservation commissions.  Our goal is to facilitate communication and cooperation among commissions, to share ideas and develop best practices

Join NH Fish & Game for Trails for People & Wildlife 

  • March 4, Lancaster
  • March 19, Center Harbor
  • March 24, Greenland
  • March 25, New London
  • April 7, Milford

Hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and horseback riding are just some of the ways we get outside to enjoy nature and relax. However, even these seemingly low-key activities can have a negative impact on wildlife. A new mapping tool and guide called Trails for People and Wildlife aims to encourage people to get outside and enjoy nature while allowing wildlife to thrive. It was funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and produced by the NH Fish and Game Department and Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Dates and location can be found here.

2/13/20 NHACC Annual Meeting and Conference

Please Join Us for the NHACC

Annual Meeting and Conference

Saturday, November 7, 2020

from 8 am to 3:30 pm 

The NHACC Annual Meeting and Conference is the only State-wide conference dedicated to municipal conservation commission members.  We offer workshops on the fundamentals of conservation commissions as well as more advanced sessions. Choose ANY 3 SESSIONS from 24 workshops – such as: DES Wetlands Rules and CC's Role in Permit Process; Using GIS to Create Maps, Nature Economy:  Recognizing the Value of Natural Assets  & many, many more! Don’t miss this educational networking opportunity to learn from both peers and professionals. 

NHACC Welcomes New Executive Director

The NHACC Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Barbara Richter as its new Executive Director.  Barbara will lead the organization, and provide assistance and direct support to NHACC members. Prior to NHACC, Barbara worked at W.S. Badger Company where she was responsible for regulatory compliance.

"The support NHACC provides to NH conservation commissions is critical to successful natural resource protection in the state. The strength of the conservation movement in NH comes from the unity of its many amazing citizen groups, government agencies and non-profit organizations," said Barbara. "I look forward to providing valuable technical support to NH cities and towns and advising their conservation commissions."

Barbara's background uniquely qualifies her to assume the role as the NHACC Executive Director. Her extensive experience in land conservation includes working at the Forest Society’s Center for Land Conservation Assistance where she supported local and regional land trusts with their land protection initiatives. Barbara also worked at the Monadnock Conservancy in the role of both Stewardship Coordinator and Membership Coordinator. She has first-hand experience with conservation commissions as a previous chair of the Surry Conservation Commission and a member of the City of Keene Conservation Commission. She understands the required duties of conservation commissions and is familiar with the challenges faced by both small towns and cities.

Barbara received her master’s degree in environmental studies from Antioch New England University and her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Syracuse University. She lives in Keene with her husband and two children.

Governor Hassan Vetoed SB 324!

We've just received word from Governor Hassan's office. She's vetoed SB 324, and we couldn't be happier!

062116 SB 324 Veto Message.doc

 

New Hampshire's 217th Conservation Commission

Monadnock from Roxbury. Photo by Amy BodwellAt the March 1965 Town Meetings, 18 towns established conservation commissions, including Bedford, Center Harbor, Durham, Epsom, Exeter, Francestown, Gilford, Hampton, Hampton Falls, Hollis, Hooksett, Littleton, Meredith, New London, Rindge, Rye, Salem and Sunapee. 50 years later we are still adding towns to the statewide list! Say hello to Roxbury, our state's newest conservation commission! With a population just a little over 200 residents, Roxbury is one of NH's smallest communities, but is certainly not without a passion for conservation! I asked Amy Bodwell, one of the organizing members, a few questions about how they got started:

How did the idea to form a conservation commission come about?
I served on a Conservation Commission in Brookfield, IL for 10 years and loved it. I was disappointed Roxbury did not have one after moving here. But I ended up as head of the Planning Board and didn’t think about it again until Tom Duston [NHACC Board Member & Chesterfield Conservation Commission] approached me to see if we were interested. We are starting to collect wildlife information as Roxbury is under reported at the state level so we were already engaged in that activity.

Dam and old mill site. Photo by Amy BodwellWhat do you think you might do first?
We have not met officially but the group of us talked about building a working relationship with the Keene Conservation Commission. Keene owns about 2700 acres of land in the middle of Roxbury for their watershed. We also talked about marking the town boundaries. We would like to do a natural resource inventory and that also means a good relationship with Keene. We hope to get better acquainted with easements as all the land in Roxbury is privately held other than the Keene land and we want to encourage people to consider those or be available if someone needs information. The town does not own any land except around town hall.

Why is conservation important for Roxbury?
The town is tiny and everyone wants to keep the rural characteristic here. Many of the folks I know here are into conservation. Whether a conservation commission is critical like it is in many towns, I’m not sure, but it feels good to be starting one. 

Photo credit: Amy Bodwell

Every dollar invested in conservation yields $11 of economic benefit in NH

The Trust for Public Land released their much-anticipated report on NH's Return on Investment in Land Conservation. This study provides a fantastic resource for conservation commissions looking to promote and support land conservation efforts in their towns.

Your Assistance is Needed to Determine Which Conservation Commission Came First

50 years go the NH Legislature passed the enabling legislation for conservation commissions. Towns began forming commissions the following year.

We need your help: When did your community vote to form a conservation commission? Were you the first? Is your commission the newest in the state? To celebrate this important milestone, we'll display copies of your warrant articles at the NHACC Annual Meeting. 

Please contact the NHACC office if you don't know what year to start; we have an idea of when most commissions started. You'll need to research the town reports from the year of formation and the following year. Send us a photocopy or scan of the warrant language (year of passage) and any related discussion (minutes of the previous year's meeting). 

You can send us the documents in two ways: Email us scans of the relevant pages or snail mail copies to NHACC, 54 Porstmouth Street, Concord, NH 03301.

Have fun and thanks for your help!

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