“The college idealists who fill the ranks of the environmental movement seem willing to do absolutely anything to save the biosphere, except take science courses and learn something about it.” — P.J. O’Rourke
The NH Union Leader’s Ted Seifert featured a story about ConservationNH.org and their inaugural release of the, “Dirty Dozen” list of bills currently before the legislature. According to filings with the Secretary of State, this group began in 2009 and its board is comprised of individuals listing affiliations and accomplishments more warmly welcoming in the left-wing political arena. That is an important distinction to make because they have RINO’s Rick Russman and Liz Hager on their team.
When readers go to the website, ConservationNH.org, the information is incomplete. There are no links to actual bills, titles or analysis other than what ConservationNH.org has to say about it. Lets look at their list:
HB 1512 – To Abolish Municipally Supported Land Conservation
ConservationNH.org states, “This bill would repeal the authority of municipal conservation commissions to acquire land for conservation purposes, as well as repeal current law that enables municipalities to put revenues from the Land Use Change Tax toward conservation funds. If passed, this bill would abolish all municipally supported land conservation in New Hampshire, with Concord mandating what has traditionally been a matter of local control – hardly a conservative position!”
The Truth: Yes! This is a “conservative position!” Likewise, it is a “liberal position” to defend a flawed law that allows a town meeting vote from perhaps ten or fifteen years ago to set the fiscal agenda irrespective of the current town meeting vote. For example, a town votes down a warrant article at town meeting for athletic fields due to the high cost and the proponents of the playing fields make an end-run around the defeated warrant article to secure the funding through conservation commissions. You people might call that local control but it “ain’t”. Unfortunately, readers do not have the actual bill text or title available so they must choose me or ConservationNH to take a position.
HB 1515 – To Upend Local Control for Land Conservation
ConservationNH.org states, “Echoing HB 1512, this would repeal the authority of municipalities to establish conservation funds with proceeds from the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT). If it were enacted, the State would unilaterally prohibit municipalities from deciding at the local level whether to create conservation funds with LUCT revenues. This bill is yet another example of an over-reaching nanny state trying to usurp local control in New Hampshire.”
The Truth: The actual Bill analysis states, “This bill changes the tax collection procedures for the current use land use change tax, adds failure to pay property taxes and failure to notify of a qualifying use change to the actions which trigger the land use change tax, and requires all municipal land use change tax revenues to be recognized as general fund revenue.” Municipalities that establish “dedicated funds” means property taxpayers have nothing to say about how the funds are used. This bill corrects this by requiring the municipality to place the funds back into the town coffers. By doing so, voters at town meeting have an opportunity to re-decide the same use as if they were in the dedicated fund. Under the present law, a select few make the decisions without input of those who pay the taxes. ConservationNH characterizes this as, “another example of an over-reaching nanny state trying to usurp local control in New Hampshire.” While these same people rely on the present law to spend taxpayer money as they wish without accountability.
HB 514 – To Pre-empt Public Access to Un-posted Private Lands
ConservationNH asserts, “This bill would prohibit entry by anyone to private land for virtually any purpose without the written consent of the landowner. Among the many unintended consequences of this bill would be to undercut the ability of Fish and Game, the Department of Environmental Services, Department of Resources and Economic Development – not to mention most hunters and fisherman – from enjoying, accessing, and monitoring the health of the state’s wildlife and natural resources. Our economy would no doubt suffer as a result.”
The Truth: The analysis provided by ConservationNH is an outright “damn lie!” Click HERE to read what the bill itself says. From the Bill analysis, This bill prohibits “certain” (not all entry) entry on private property for “data gathering“ without a warrant or the written consent of the landowner. Surveyors, contractors and other analysis wonks related to Northern Pass have been entering onto people’s land in the North Country and doing their “data gathering.”
When people keep their land open for hunting, fishing and recreation, they do not contemplate non-governmental corporate types with potential power and force of government, to gather information about their property they will eventually use to force them off by eminent domain. If Northern Pass had been respectful, honest and forthright, versus sneaking around like thieves, such legislation would not be necessary. the Fish & Game Data Gathering argument is a red herring because Fish & Game nearly always contacts and interfaces with a landowner when they have a project to do that involves private land.
Preservation groups like ConservationNH, thrive on the misnomers, confusion and ambiguity by using conservation and preservation interchangeably, implying that the two words mean the same thing. But let us vacate this discussion because ConservationNH.org’s focus in opposing these bills has nothing to do with conservation, as much as it has to do with a push back to maintain political power of the select few liberals who are unaccountable.
ConservationNH is just another tree-hugger hippie-laden crowd looking to lock up the bulk of land through use and abuse of conservation easements, restrict how people use their land and create a plethora of costly layers for people to surmount in making improvements, enhancements and use of property they own under the pretext of protecting the environment, waters and lands. They will fight any bill that makes reviewable the decisions and mandates of a now unaccountable Department of Environmental Services.