Shaheen touts land conservation fund
DOVER — As part of an ongoing effort to convince federal officials to continue the mechanism to conserve lands, area residents and businesses must let their legislators know the importance of sustainable land management.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., met with about 20 representatives last Friday from a variety of industries, organizations and governmental agencies to build support reauthorizing the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
"LWCF is one of the few federal sources that have been here every year," Shaheen said, adding the fund could allocate up to $900 million.
The LWCF Act, which began in 1965, regulates the use of admission and recreation user fees to purchase and conserve land and water throughout the nation.
Cam Brensinger, founder and CEO of Nemo Equipment in Dover, where the meeting was held, said Shaheen is one of 51 senators who signed a bipartisan letter asking to continue the LWCF, which is set to expire after 50 years in September 2015.
"LWCF is very important to us for the environment and the industry," Brensinger said.
Donald Shumway, president of Crotched Mountain Foundation, said the LCWF provided the mechanism to help create the largest handicapped accessible trail for the Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in Greenfield
"Without the program, it never would have happened," Shumway said.
Jay Steeve, of Timberland, said the LWCF is important since it's apolitical, allowing access to resources, protecting wildlife habitats and even offering recreational opportunities, like soccer fields.
"It's about responsible land management," Steeve said, adding the success comes from providing a balance of recreational access for the public, sustainable forestry and conservation.
Rodger Krussman, state director for the Trust for Public Land, said the LWCF helps protect tracts of land and encourages communities and organizations to help conserve properties, which has been especially successful in New Hampshire.
"Most of the outdoor use is local," Krussman said. "Not everyone can afford to go to Yellowstone or Yosemite."
Eric Orff, certified wildlife biologist, said the only way to ensure continued sustainability of natural resources is to ensure the love for the outdoors is passed down.
"It's not about us in this room. It's about the next generation," Orff said.
Brensinger suggested offering more access to nature, such as creating hiking trails and expanding access along the Cocheco River in the downtown.
"We need to figure out a way to get kids outdoors," Brensinger said.
Shaheen said she hopes to reach out gain more support, especially in the lumber and forestry industries. She said these businesses are another "whole aspect" of the coalition of groups that can agree on sustaining the resources for all.
"Clearly, what we need to do in New Hampshire is continue to preserve the environment," Shaheen said, adding it's good for business and has a $4.2 billion in economic impact — through consumer spending — in the state."We all know what makes New Hampshire special," Shaheen said.