NH’s Congressional Delegation: Champions for Conservation
The following opinion piece was written by Daryl Burtnet, Nature Conservancy, NH Chapter; Jane A. Difley, Society for the Protection of NH Forests; Walter Graff, Appalachian Mountain Club; Bruce Schwaegler, Audubon Society of New Hampshire; and Dennis Shaffer, Trust for Public Land.
On behalf of New Hampshire’s statewide land conservation organizations, we want to applaud New Hampshire’s Congressional delegation – Senators Judd Gregg and John Sununu and Representatives Charlie Bass and Jeb Bradley – for their strong support of federal land conservation funding during the 2006 session.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Gregg has been especially instrumental in ensuring funding for critical New Hampshire land conservation needs, and Senator Sununu has also consistently supported funding for priority New Hampshire projects. In the House, Congressman Bass has been a leader in organizing his fellow members to support funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Forest Legacy Program, while Congressmen Bradley and Bass have both worked hard to secure funding for New Hampshire conservation projects in the House.
The scope of New Hampshire conservation projects proposed for funding in this year's spending bills is remarkable, particularly given current federal budget constraints. These projects will safeguard important natural resources across our state’s forests, fertile river valleys, and fragile coastal ecosystems. A few highlights:
On the Seacoast, the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership is in line to receive $5.3 million for the protection of additional land that conserves water quality and wildlife habitat, while an additional $3.7 million in coastal land protection funds would help protect key wetlands and headwaters areas in Greenland, Milton and Middleton. A $600,000 appropriation from the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic Rivers Program would advance land protection on the Lamprey River, while a $250,000 grant from NOAA would help conserve undeveloped stream banks along the Merrimack River crucial to the long-term recovery of Atlantic salmon.
In the heart of New Hampshire’s western highlands, $3 million from the Forest Legacy Program could help protect more than 1,600 acres of working forest, water and wetlands around Willard Pond in Stoddard. A separate $200,000 appropriation would help advance a unique partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers aimed at improving the management of dams for flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife habitat on the Ashuelot River. In the Connecticut River valley, New Hampshire could benefit from a proposed $4 million allocation to the four-state Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, while in the North Country, the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge would receive $1,000,000 to conserve additional acreage around one of New Hampshire’s last great wild lakes.
The House and Senate must still reach a final agreement on this year’s spending bills, so these projects have further hurdles to clear. But we are confident New Hampshire's Congressional delegation will continue their hard work on our state’s behalf. As the fastest growing state in the Northeast, New Hampshire urgently needs to invest in land conservation – to protect our state’s environment, quality of life, and economic strength. Federal funding is a crucial part of our state’s conservation efforts, and we are fortunate to have our delegation’s steadfast and effective support.