Origins of the NHACC

The idea of empowering volunteers to be the caretaker of their local natural assets began back in 1957 when Massachusetts passed the first law enabling a municipality to establish a conservation commission. A group of community residents successfully used the state law authoring the creation of local conservation commissions as the basis to protect marshland on the grounds that it would “enhance community values”. By the end of 1958, 12 towns created conservation commissions to ensure protection of their communities natural resources.  Municipal conservation commissions exist today in all six New England states, New York, and New Jersey.

NH Conservation Commissions

In 1960, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society), lead the way on establishing focused new conservation commissions. In 1963, Governor John King signed the Conservation Commission Enabling Act, now RSA 36-A. Few municipalities knew of the statute, as a result, no commissions were created. In December 1964, the Forest Society urged its members to propose commissions in their municipalities.

Les Clark organized the first statewide meeting of conservation commissions in February 1967. One result of this meeting was the quarterly Conservation Commission News newsletter for conservation commissioners, first published by Forest Society in March 1967. At town meetings that month, 23 more towns voted to establish commissions.  By 2020, 217 of 234 NH municipalities had voted to create conservation commissions, taking up the charge to protect local natural resources.

NHACC History

In November 1970, the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) was formed at the Second Congress of New England Conservation Commissions. NHACC assumes responsibility for Conservation Commission News and hires executive secretary Malcolm “Tink” Taylor of Holderness.

NHACC was incorporated on March 26, 1971, became an affiliate of NH Municipal Association in October 1971 and was granted 501(c)(3) non-profit status in 1974. NHACC’s mission is to foster conservation and appropriate use of NH's natural resources by providing assistance to conservation commissions, facilitating communication and cooperation among commissions, and helping to create a climate in which commissions can be successful.

Over the years, NHACC publications have included the quarterly Conservation Commission News, a periodic Conservation News Bulletin with the status of bills before the NH Legislature, Handbooks for New Hampshire's Municipal Conservation Commissions; Guide to the Designation of Prime Wetlands (1983), and The NH Municipal Conservation Fund Guidebook (2010).

Today, NHACC provides guidance on topics ranging from how to take meeting minutes, to best practices for trail building, to wetland permits and sample warrant article language. We continue to provide educational materials, coordinate training programs, and send out monthly Enews to our members. We hold a very popular annual conference on the first Saturday in November, offering dozens of educational workshops and field trips. We work in the legislature and on state committees to ensure that the voice of your conservation commission is represented.

The Association's executive director is a statutory member of the Current Use Board and State Conservation Committee. NHACC has and continues to participate in, and advice on a number of endeavors with other groups, organizations, and state agencies including:

  • Taking Action for Wildlife Team;
  • Forest Stewardship Committee;
  • Land and Water Conservation Fund Advisory Panel;
  • Geological Resource Advisory Committee;
  • Lakes Management Advisory Committee;
  • Rivers Management Advisory Committee;
  • ARM Fund Site Selection Committee;
  • Wetlands Council; and,
  • State agency rules advisory committees as needed.

For its first decade, Malcolm “Tink” Taylor of Holderness was NHACC's part-time executive secretary. When Tink left in 1980, the Board of Directors hired Marjory Swope of Concord in 1981.  Marjory continued as executive director for 25 years. Marjory retired in April of 2006. On June 8, 2006, the NHACC Board of Directors voted to establish the Marjory Swope Conservation Fund to honor Marjory Swope's remarkable contributions.

Following Marjory’s long tenure, Carol (Krygeris) Andrews, served as executive director from 2006 to 2013. She expanded the annual conference, developed the NHACC website, and co-authored The NH Municipal Conservation Fund Guidebook.  Nicholas Coates served as executive director from 2013 to 2015.  Barbara Richter was hired as the executive director in 2016. She has more than 20 years of experience in communications and non-profit administration in land conservation.


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