SB 136 Denies Landowners Their Property Rights
The New Hampshire Senate is currently considering SB 136, a bill that if approved would require approval of federal land acquisitions by the Governor and Executive Council. The Forest Society, as well as several of our land conservation partners, raised concerns at the bill's public hearing about the impact this proposal would have on both private property rights and with on-going land conservation efforts in our state.
SB 136 actually proposes to amend an older, existing New Hampshire law (RSA 121). Unfortunately, the bill adds a cumbersome local and state process to approve any land sale between a private property owner and the federal agency. It also expands the definition of what constitutes federal acquisitions to include not only fee title acquisition but conservation easements as well. This expansion in the definition of federal land acquisition means that several important federal resource protection programs, such as the Wetlands Reserve Program, which land trusts, municipalities and private landowners use to undertake important local conservation may no longer be available to use.
Furthermore, from a big picture view, SB 136 assumes that all federal land ownership is intrinsically harmful to New Hampshire. We disagree with such an assertion. The White Mountain National Forest, for example, highlights how federal action to preserve the most important natural areas here has had widespread economic and ecological benefits. it is our hope the Senate will vote SB 136 as Inexpedient to Legislate.
Please contact the members of the Executive Departments and Administration Committee and urge them to value individual property rights and conservation by not supporting SB 136.