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 the protection of their community's 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 in establishing focused new conservation commissions. In 1963, Governor John King signed the Conservation Commission Enabling Act and became RSA 36-A.

The state enabling legislation, RSA 36-A authorizes the establishment of municipal conservation commissions, “for the proper utilization and protection of the natural resources.” NH  conservation commissions are tasked with conducting town natural resources inventories, coordinating conservation activities including environmental education, land protection, wetland evaluation and so much more.  

In March of 1965, eighteen towns established conservation commissions. The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Forest Society) 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

For more than 50 years, the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) has supported the work of municipal conservation commissions so they can be effective in protecting their municipality's natural resources.  The NHACC is the only non-profit organization dedicated to providing support, education, and advocacy for New Hampshire’s conservation commissions.

 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 (2004 and 2020); 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. 

NHACC represents our members in the state legislature and on state committees advocating for environmentally responsible legislation and rulemaking to make sure their voice is heard. Most importantly, NHACC helps build a stronger New Hampshire conservation community.

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 the land conservation field.


Back to Top