The following was published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on November 22, 2008 and is used by permission.
Lynch tells LCHIP to give back $3 million to state
CONCORD—Budget cuts forced the LCHIP preservation program yesterday to put on hold its planned Dec. 1 round of grants. LCHIP executive director Deborah Turcott said she had to suspend the process after Gov. John Lynch told the agency to tum $3 million of its funds back to state government. LCHIP, an acronym for Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, got $6 million in state funds last year. This year funding comes from a $25 fee on documents filed at county registries of deeds. LCHIP has committed $3 million to projects around the state that it hasn't distributed yet. Lynch's budget team allowed LCHIP to hold onto the funds until the end of June to minimize the impact of the cuts. Turcott said the flow of document fees this fiscal year will make up for the $3 million cut. "We'll use our 2009 money to keep our commitments, but we'll have to suspend making any new grants until further notice," Turcott said. LCHIP matches local investments in historic properties and tracts of undeveloped land and open space. LCHIP grants are used to leverage private and other money. Because of the value each LCHIP dollar brings, Jack Savage, spokesman for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, said the reductions "are not so much cutting fat, as cutting off LCHIP's right leg and starting to gnaw on the left one." Cuts will mean rich towns get to preserve more of their land and buildings than poor ones that don't have access to funding, Savage said.