Concord – April 18, 2011 – Twelve of the state’s most prominent environmental and conservation organizations have sent a joint letter to New Hampshire Senate President Peter Bragdon asking that the Senate reject the deep funding cuts to the budgets of the state’s natural resources agencies that the N.H. House of Representatives approved in HB-1.
The New Hampshire Lakes Association, Appalachian Mountain Club, the Trust for Public Land, the Nature Conservancy, and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests are among the one dozen groups saying the proposed cuts to the Governor’s budget will “undermine the foundations of sustainable economic development,” and will unravel the “long standing bi-partisan commitment in New Hampshire to ensure we have a clean, safe and beautiful environment to pass on to future generations.”
Among the programs that will be zeroed-out by the House budget are the Lakes Management Program and the Rivers Management Program – cuts the environmental groups said will severely hamper “the state’s ability to protect the natural assets important to our drinking water supplies, recreational opportunities, and wildlife habitat.”
Also set to be terminated are the state’s three volunteer water quality monitoring programs, including VLAP, the Volunteer Lake Assessment Program. Established in 1985, VLAP annually enlists hundreds of volunteers around the state to collect lake water samples that the state processes and uses for the long-term study of the health of the state’s lakes.
Locally, Ossipee Lake has had a VLAP program for more than a decade, according to Ossipee Lake Alliance Executive Director David Smith, who also cited the soon-to-be–terminated New Hampshire Lakes Management Program as playing a pivotal role in helping create the broad coalition of lake stakeholders that resulted in a successful management plan for Ossipee Lake Natural Area, which is viewed as a model for similar plans around the state.
Other cuts that will result from the House budget include “drastic reductions” to the state’s Limnology Center programs, which the environmental groups’ letter said will result in the state no longer monitoring the water quality of beaches, public pools, lakes, rivers and streams, and the elimination of the Well Water Program and the Radon Program. Also to be scrapped is the state’s Shellfish Program, which the letter said will “lead to the closure of all commercial and recreational shellfish harvesting in the state.”
The conservation groups cited these and other threatened programs and initiatives as having a “demonstrated track record” of success in “supporting our economy as well as protecting the health and safety of our communities and citizens.”
Read the complete letter here.