Conservation News and Events

NH Invasives Academy: Now Accepting Applications!

UNH Cooperative Extension will host the inaugural NH Invasives Academy, a 2-day workshop focused on invasive plants on September 27-28 at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. At this special two-day workshop focused on invasive plants, up to 40 attendees will have the opportunity to attend presentations, participate in hands-on activities, learn from colleagues, experts, and each other, and attend field trips covering ecological considerations and management strategies for invasive plants in New Hampshire. Instruction for the Academy will be provided by a diverse group of agency, academic, non-profit, and private industry partners. Attendees will learn tools and techniques to improve their management plans and activities. In exchange for the 2-day training, participants agree to return to their New Hampshire communities and contribute 20 hours of time sharing information learned with landowners, colleagues, clients or other members of their community. A $65 registration fee partially covers meals, transportation, and materials. Learn more & apply here.

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6/7/18 Legislative Update

Bills to Watch in 2018
We work in the legislature and on state committees to ensure that your conservation commission is informed. We are keeping an eye on the legislature and tracking proposed bills that would affect conservation commissions or natural resources in NH. Check out our 2018 Legislative Session Spreadsheet for a list of bills we are tracking.

 HB1104-FN  This bill proposes reductions in regulatory permits, including Dredge and Fill application timelines and includes many other changes to administrative procedures.  The Executive Departments and Administration has recommended that the bill passes with an amendment. NHACC worked closely with the Governor’s legal council to ensure that conservation commissions have the ability to request an extension to the 40 day wetland permit review process. The House concurred with changes made by the Senate to HB1104 Senate Amendment.  The final version will likely be signed by the Governor.

SB 48: Establishing a commission to study efficiency and effectiveness of the Fish & Game Commission & Department has been signed by the Governor.  Final Version

Bills Referred to Interim study

HB1749 Relative to the state’s authority to prohibit or regulate firearms and relative to the selectmen’s authority to manage town property.  This is a concern to conservation commissions because town conservation land often prohibits firearms.  This bill examines the authority to prohibit firearms on town land.

HB1343 Relative to the protection of beaver.   This bill adds provisions for the protection of beavers and beaver dams and requires the executive director of the fish and game department to include advice on beaver control on its public website This bill has been Referred to Interim Study. 

HB486 Relative to the protection of wetlands.  This bill identifies and defines different types of wetlands protected under the Wetlands Protection Act. This bill proposes a state wide buffer for high value wetlands, “ A natural vegetation buffer of 100 feet shall be maintained from the mapped edge of all high value wetlands, except wetlands within 50 feet of, and hydrologically connected to, a Tier 3 or larger stream, as defined in department rules, which shall have a buffer of 50 feet, measured from the ordinary high water mark of the stream, plus an additional 25 feet from the edge of the wetland.” 

The bills proposed to study current use have now been laid on the table.
 HB 1210: An ACT establishing a committee to study the effect of current use taxation on small and rural communities. NHACC opposes this bill and provided written testimony at public hearing. This bill would not introduce any legislation for 2018, but the study committee could have a big impact on current use. SB405 is another current use study bill that could impact the protection of open space. The Amendment to SB 405 changed the bill to study current use taxation on small and rural municipalities. Both of these bills have now been laid on the table which means the House or Senate may vote again on the bill someday, but for now the bill has been set aside. If the session ends and the bill has not been taken off the table, the bill dies.

HB 1585 would have inserted the words “or a Natural Resources Inventory” in RSA 36-A.  It was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by the full House in March. Since NHACC has always interpreted the word “index” in RSA 36-A:2 to also refer to a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI), this bill would not have changed the way we operate or support conservation commissions.

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5/2/18 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

Learn more about  Improving Flood Resiliency

September 13 at 3:30 pm

The Piscataqua Region Estuaries PartnershipGreat Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, and the NH Association of Conservation Commissions are proud to present the 8th workshop in the Board Empowerment Series – Floodplain Management 101: Improving Flood Resiliency in Your Community in partnership with the NH Office of Strategic Initiatives. The workshop is designed for members of conservation commissions and municipal boards.  

 Registration Email Steve Miller (steve.miller@wildlife.nh.gov) to register with your name, position, organization, and contact information (email and phone). Registration is free, with a suggested $5 donation.

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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.

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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

 

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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

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LUCT and it’s benefit to the Merrimack Community

LUCT is a tax paid to the Town when undeveloped land under a lower tax rate (current use) becomes developed.

In Merrimack, NH, the Merrimack Conservation Commission (MCC) has received 50% of LUCT funds over the course of many years. These moneys have gone into a fund that the commission can access for small or large projects and for land acquisitions through purchase or donation.

 This has proved to be an outstanding tool for achieving our goal. By majority vote, the MCC has approved withdrawals from this account to fund such things as trail bridge projects, the expansion of the Horse Hill Nature Preserve parking lot, ecological surveys and the acquisition of many acres of land to add to our conservation areas (such as the recent expansion of Grater Woods).

The benefit of this arrangement with the Town, without a doubt has allowed the MCC to further its mission to the benefit of the citizens of Merrimack.

Of course, as Merrimack becomes increasingly developed over the years, the amount of land available and susceptible to LUCT has become greatly diminished. This means that the money well is drying up and the MCC will have to look for alternative funding for major future purchases and other maintenance projects on our conserved lands.

 I would encourage other conservation commissions to look into a similar arrangement with their towns. This would provide funds to allow for the continued preservation of land in your community, as the LUCT by its nature comes from land that is lost to development.

The sooner the better!

Mike Boisvert, Merrimack Conservation Committee

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