Another View -- John Gallus: Balance is needed in state's land conservation efforts
Those of us who live in northern New Hampshire place great value on the land and the environment that surround us. Many of us also value efforts to conserve unique areas and places of great natural beauty to ensure they are preserved for our benefit and the benefit of future generations.
However, when the government or private land conservation organizations move away from protecting unique places, and instead focus on amassing as much land as possible, great burdens are shifted to the taxpayers and remaining private landowners in the region.
These burdens can be many. When government purchases land, these properties are essentially removed from the tax base, and the costs of local government services are levied onto a smaller and smaller group of people. In turn, this creates pressure to increase taxes on those remaining private landowners.
Consider the efforts by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to control land around Umbagog Lake. Initially, the federal agency said it planned to preserve 1,600 acres. Now, 20 years later, the government’s control extends to more than 76,000 acres.
In addition to the efforts of the federal government, private land conservation groups are aggressively pursuing efforts to “lock up” as much land as possible. One particular environmental group has established a goal of conserving 40 percent of the state of New Hampshire. While in aggregate that would seem laudable, it appears that most of this goal will be achieved by restricting land in Coos County.
Restrictions on these conserved lands can do more than impact local property taxes. Federally protected lands typically place restrictions on timber harvesting to the detriment of our forestry industry, jobs and timber tax revenues to local communities.
Another important consideration is the impact that overreaching land conservation ultimately puts on our ability to rebuild our local economy. As land is restricted and development is confined to smaller and smaller areas, options for development are eliminated and greater pressure is placed on those areas that remain open to development.
Whether you oppose or support the Northern Pass project, it is clear that the extensive acreage under conservation in Coos County, and the limitation on development on these lands, dictated the location of the project’s proposed initial route into areas of greater impact on private landowners and communities. Allowing these types of development projects to consider the use of conserved land — areas such as Nash Stream, the Connecticut Headwaters or other public lands — would take many of these burdens off private landowners and allow development away from areas with greater concentrations of people and homes.
Moving forward, it is critical that New Hampshire and Coos County develop a plan that requires balance between the ongoing land conservation efforts and the need to rebuild our economy and provide jobs and economic opportunity for citizens now and into the future. Without balance, the costs will only become greater for North Country landowners and taxpayers.
Sen. John Gallus, a Republican from Berlin, is serving his fifth term representing District 1 in the state Legislature.
READER COMMENTS: 3
- Pat Buchanan: The high price of papal popularity - 0
- Kathy Sullivan: Scott Brown does not get what 'pro-choice' really means - 15
- Deroy Murdock: Scott Brown's good case for a Republican Senate - 1
- Jonah Goldberg: Rise of the Clinton Democrats (not really) - 0
- Your Turn, NH -- Kelley Tambouris: I am a Manchester teacher, and I need more support - 23
- Political correctness could wind up killing a lot of Americans - 4
- Charles Krauthammer: Ebola vs. civil liberties - 0
- Wayne F. Lesperance Jr.: Republicans are poised to win the Senate... maybe - 3
- George Will: The fictitious war on women - 0
READER COMMENTS: 1
- Three indicted in beating, robbery of pizza delivery man in Somersworth - 0
- Man arrested as Manchester West High School intruder indicted on felony charge - 0
- Keene police say one charged with riot on Saturday, another arrested could face riot charge - 0
- Manchester man indicted on charge he ordered murder of city man - 0
- Husband found guilty, wife awaiting trial in murder of St. Johnsbury, Vt. teacher - 0
- No murder charge in stabbing of Manchester man in 'Black Acres;' self-defense claimed - 0
- Ottawa police say male suspect in attack and soldier are dead - 1
- Keene police release riot images, seek help with identification - 0
- Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon to care for any potential NH Ebola patients, state announces - 0
Locked in a dead heat, Shaheen, Brown spar
NH's back-road rest areas fading away
Fall hikers throughout NH put on notice
Locked in a dead heat, Shaheen, Brown spar
Team Obama: Faking right, voting left
Preventing riots: What should Keene do?