LCHIP Funding Signed into Law
Jack Savage, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, (603) 224-9945 x330
Jennifer Goodman, NH Preservation Alliance, (603) 224-2281
Eric Aldrich, The Nature Conservancy, (603) 224-5853 x26
Rick Minard, NH Audubon, 603-224-9909, x314
Kim Gilman, Trust for Public Land, 617-367-6200 x526
When Governor Lynch signed the state's biennial budget into law he inked approval for a $12 million appropriation and a dedicated fund for the popular Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP). Restoring LCHIP funding to $12 million--a level not seen since 2001--and establishing a predictable long-term funding source for the program were top goals for the state’s conservation community this legislative session.
“This is critically important step forward for New Hampshire,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “Our economy and quality of life depend on our natural resources, and LCHIP is one of the important tools we use to protect those resources. We congratulate the legislature not only for their personal support and efforts on behalf of LCHIP, but also for responding to citizens across the state who have made it clear that they strongly favor the conservation and preservation goals of this program.”
“We extend special thanks to Senate President Sylvia Larsen and House Speaker Terie Norelli, who shared a common goal of finding a long-term solution to funding LCHIP,” said Will Abbott, vice president for policy and land management at the Forest Society. “Both worked tirelessly to bridge the differences between the Senate and House positions. We also want to recognize the original sponsors of this year’s LCHIP funding legislation and key Committee chairs. Without the effective leadership of Senators Harold Janeway and Martha Fuller Clark, and Representatives Judith Spang, Steve Shurtleff, Liz Hager, Randy Foose, Neal Kurk, Marjorie Smith and Susan Almy this goal would not have been reached,” Abbott said.
Under the House-Senate agreement, LCHIP will receive $6 million from the state’s general fund in the first year of the biennium, which began July 1. In the second year of the budget, the program is funded through a dedicated $25 fee on documents recorded at the ten county deed registries. The county registers will begin collecting the fee on July 1, 2008. The recording fee will expire after 10 years, unless the legislature extends it. A legislative study committee will meet this summer (comprised of three senators and three house members) to determine whether another alternative dedicated funding source may be more appropriate before the deed fee collection begins in 2008.