Conservation News and Events

3/15/19 Legislative Update

Bills to Watch in NH 2019 Legislative Session
Here at NHACC, we work to make sure your voice is heard in Concord. We testify in the legislature and on state committees to ensure conservation commissions are represented. We are tracking several proposed bills that would affect natural resources in NH in our 2019 Legislative Spreadsheet. Some of the priority bills are listed below with links to the bill language.  
HB 442 An ACT relative to coyote hunting.  This bill prohibits hunting coyote during certain months to coincide with coyote pup rearing.  This bill permits NH Fish & Game Department to establish rules for coyote hunting including reporting requirements, and length of season and requirements for landowner permission. NHACC signed on to an endorsement letter in support of this bill. The House Fish & Game Committee voted 14-6 the Bill Inexpedient to Legislate in February. The full House will vote on this bill the end of March.  
 
HB 542 AN ACT establishing a grant program to support municipalities in updating their wetlands regulations. This bill establishes a grant program to support municipalities in adopting or updating their wetlands regulations.  This bill establishes a fund through an appropriation of $350,000 to the office of strategic planning to be deposited in the wetlands regulations fund. This bill passed the House Committee with an amendment but was then sent to a work session in the House Finance Committee before it can go to the Senate.
 
HB 543 AN ACT relating to the protection of wetlands. This bill identifies and defines different types of wetlands protected under the Wetlands Protection Act and established a 100 ft buffer for high-value Wetlands. This bill has been moved to a subcommittee and was discussed in a work session this week. NHACC provided testimony in support of this bill at the public hearing. This bill will be heard in Executive Session on March 13 in the Legislative Office Building. 

 HB 682-FN  an Act establishing a water resources fund in the department of environmental services and charging certain application and permit fees.  This funding increase will provide the necessary staff and resources to DES so that they may respond efficiently and effectively to the dredge and fill permit review process. Last year the legislature decreased the review period for DES to respond to wetland dredge and fill permits by almost half.  In order to continue to protect wetlands and meet the shortened deadlines, DES needs sufficient resources to respond in a timely and thorough manner.  NHACC supports this bill and has provided testimony at the public hearing to make the case for an increase in funding. 

Plastic reduction—there is a coalition working to pass legislation in NH banning
single use bags and straws.  The Concord Monitor wrote an article on the proposed bills in this weeks paper.

HB 102 AN ACT relative to municipal ordinances regarding the use of plastics. This bill permits towns to adopt bylaws to regulate the distribution of single-use plastics.
 
HB 558 AN ACT restricting the distribution of plastic straws. This bill prohibits food service businesses from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless specifically requested.
 
HB 559 AN ACT enabling municipalities to ban single-use sources of plastic pollution. This bill allows for a local ordinance or an optional ban on single-use sources of plastic pollution, amending RSA 149-M by inserting a new section.
 
HB 560 An ACT relative to single-use carryout bags. This bill restricts the distribution of single-use carryout bags by stores and food service businesses. It amends RSA 149-M by inserting after section 60 the following new subdivision: Restriction on Distribution of Single-Use Carryout Bags

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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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