Forest Society praises Bald's leadership at DRED

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE    Contact: Charlie Niebling (603) 224-9945

March 10, 2004

CONCORD – The departure of Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald, announced today, will leave a deep void in a vital state agency that has managed to balance the protection of New Hampshire’s natural resources during a period of booming economic growth and development.

“Throughout his tenure, George has always been accessible and has shown that he recognizes the vital role conservation plays in maintaining New Hampshire’s healthy economy and high quality of life,” said Jane Difley, president/forester at the Forest Society. “He has proven himself a thoughtful, open-minded manager of the state’s forests and public lands.”

Bald played a pivotal role in reopening the Gorham/Berlin mills, which provide hundreds of critical jobs to the North Country’s forest products industry. He was instrumental in protecting the Connecticut Headwaters, which include 171,500 acres of forestlands, rare habitat, recreation areas and wetlands at the northern edge of the state. DRED also helped secure federal Forest Legacy money for easements on the Bunnell Tract, Ossipee Mountains, 13-Mile Woods and, soon, Pillsbury-Sunapee.

Bald maintained an active state interest in stewardship of state parks and forests, and convened a Forest Industry Task Force to address challenges facing businesses dependent on wood products. While working in support of industry, Bald also supported the Natural Heritage program to protect the state’s most important wildlife habitats.

The Forest Society urged Gov. Craig Benson and the Executive Council to appoint a new DRED commissioner who will hold similar values.

“It’s vital that they appoint someone with a keen understanding of all aspects of DRED’s complex mission: forest and lands, parks and recreation, travel and tourism and economic development,” Difley said. “New Hampshire needs someone who understands that, sometimes, the protection of natural resources must take precedent over economic development.”

Founded in 1901, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is a 10,000-member, nonprofit organization that has helped protect more than one million acres. Visit www.forestsociety.org for more information, or call (603) 224-9945.

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