Forest Society, 5/3/2013
The Forest Society closed recently on a conservation easement on 295 acres in Columbia, N.H., owned by the Lewis family. The land lies just south of the protected landscape surrounding the Balsams Wilderness Resort and abuts a parcel acquired by Northern Pass. By conserving it, the Lewis family and the Forest Society have accomplished two key goals.
The Lewis property immediately connects the Balsams landscape with the state's Nash Stream Forest, creating an interconnected conserved ecosystem. In fact, the property is part of a larger contiguous block of formally protected land totaling over 65,000± acres thanks to the diligent work of several conservation organizations. This larger block of land stretches for almost 20 miles from Highway 26 to the north, south to Highway 110 in Coos County. Landscape connectivity is critical to a wide range of wildlife species such as pine marten, fisher, northern goshawk, and Canada lynx.
"The Lewis's have a strong conservation ethic and we commend them for taking steps to permanently protect the land they love," said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society.
The Lewis conservation easement prohibits Northern Pass--or any other proposed elective transmission line--from completing a route from the Canadian border in Pittsburg to Dixville and Millsfield to the east. The Forest Society has also blocked the primary intended route of Northern Pass through Stewartstown.
Thanks to the support of more than 3,000 donors from nearly every town in New Hampshire and over half the states in the country, the Forest Society's Trees Not Towers campaign to date has permanently protected 8,000 acres in northern Coos County from towers and transmission lines. In spite of spending $40 million on land acquisitions, Northern Pass has not been able to complete a route.
The property's upland and wetland natural communities support a wealth of flora and fauna ranging from blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), red baneberry (Actaea rubra), and twisted stalk (Streptopus amplexifolius) to eastern brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis),black bear (Ursus americanus), fisher (Martes pennanti), long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata), moose (Alces alces), and wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo). During breeding season and migration many bird species utilize the property’s varied habitats. More than 40 bird species were observed on the property including more than a dozen neotropical migratory warbler species.
Forest Society, 4/5/2013
The Forest Society is on the verge of completing another conservation easement in northern New Hampshire that would close off another potential route for Northern Pass. The Lewis family easement will be on 300 acres in Columbia, NH, just south of the already-protected Balsams. The Lewis land abuts a parcel acquired by Northern Pass, and the easement will prevent the proposed powerline from squeezing between the Balsams and Nash Stream State Forest. A map showing showing the location can be seen here.
"We're closing in having the funding necessary to close the Lewis easement," said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, VP for Development at the Forest Society. Donors have made more than 3,000 gifts since the Trees Not Towers campaign was launched last August, yielding $1.9 million to help stop Northern Pass as proposed. Donations can be made online here.
Last August the Forest Society announced that it had signed agreements with four landowners to put conservation easements on more than 1,000 acres that are strategically placed to prevent Northern Pass from using its intended route, thus sparing 180 miles of New Hampshire from 1,100 unnecessary and unsightly private transmission towers. Since then the Forest Society has signed agreements with another dozen landowners, and has completed conservation easements on more than 1,500 strategic acres over the past several months.
Northern Pass had said that they would announce their route by the end of March ( read the brief NHPR report)but did not. Similarly, they had promised to announce their route by the end of 2012, as reported by the Concord Monitor. They had also made representations that they would have a route by the end of September 2012, by August 2012, and the fourth quarter of 2011.
"Without eminent domain, Northern Pass cannot complete its intended route," reiterated Jane Difley, president/forester. "We believe our ongoing efforts will make it impossible for them to find any viable overhead route through northern New Hampshire. Our goal is compel Hydro-Quebec, Northeast Utilities and PSNH to make use of alternatives such as burial of the transmission line along transportation corridors. If Hydro-Quebec wants to export electricity to the southern New England market, they should be required to do so in a responsible manner."
Forest Society, 2/16/2013
Letter: No free pass for Northern Pass For the Monitor Friday, February 15, 2013
To the Editor:
With all due respect to City Manager Elizabeth Dragon, it is important to note that she does not speak for everyone in Franklin when it comes to the desire to have Northern Pass become a part of our landscape. Many of us do not have faith that the tax revenue “promised” to Franklin will, in fact, materialize to the extent they are promised.
We live in a relatively new development in Franklin. The city requires that all new developments bury their utility lines, yet it is not willing to hold Northern Pass to the same standard. We are delighted that our lines are underground; however, our neighborhood still loses power from time to time because the lines out on the street that feed our neighborhood are not stable. Burying lines goes beyond aesthetics; it provides a more stable service and eliminates most outages.
Why should we allow a project that is not necessary for our electrical needs to impact our landscape when our current provider, PSNH, will not invest in upgrading (burying?) existing lines to improve service?
To respond to concern that burying transmission lines would cause developers to go elsewhere, that simply is not true. Our neighborhood is proof of that.
If Franklin feels it is important to ask a small developer to bury its lines, why should they be giving a “free pass” to Northern Pass?
JUDITH A. ACKERSON
Forest Society, 2/13/2013
Conservation Easements Represent Three More Nails in the Northern Pass Coffin
Trees Not Towers Campaign Surges as Hundreds of Donations Pour In
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests closed today on conservation easements on more than 1,000 acres of land in Stewartstown, NH. The three parcels serve to block the obvious intended route of Northern Pass, and thus disrupt the project’s ability to move forward with that route. The conservation easements are perpetual, remaining with the land regardless of who may own it at any time in the future.
“Without eminent domain, Northern Pass cannot complete this route,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “We salute all the landowners who are taking a stand against this unnecessary scenic blight. We are continuing to work with additional landowners in the region to extend this blocking action as part of our Trees Not Towers campaign.
“If Hydro-Quebec wants to export electricity to the southern New England market, they should be required to do so in a responsible manner,” Difley said. “There are viable alternatives to draping 180 miles of New Hampshire’s scenic landscape with power lines and towers up to 140 feet high. We have taken this action to protect land in Coos County as a way to defend two-thirds of New Hampshire, from Pittsburg to Franklin to Concord to Deerfield,” Difley said.
The largest parcel involved in the transactions closed today is 1,000 acres owned by Rod McAllaster, whose family has been on the land for generations. The family operates a dairy farm and relies on the land for hay and pasture. The McAllaster Farm is also a certified Tree Farm, and includes a maple sugaring operation. A major snowmobile trail managed by the Colebrook Ski-Bees crosses the McAllaster land, providing access to Colebrook, Coleman State Park and Pittsburg. The Cohos hiking trail also makes use of the McAllaster property. The height of land on Mudgett Mountain provides spectacular views west into Vermont, south to the White Mountains and east to Dixville Notch, Table Rock and the Balsams. In January 2012, the Forest Society successfully conserved the Balsams landscape despite an attempt by Northern Pass to interfere with the transaction.
The Forest Society also closed today on conservation easements protecting two parcels constituting 86 acres owned by Lynne Placey of Stewartstown. Northern Pass attempted to acquire Placey’s land, but she chose instead to work with the Forest Society to protect it from powerlines and towers. Both parcels are strategically important to the intended route. Placey’s late husband acquired the land decades ago before they married, and she fondly recalls him taking her there during their early courtship.
The Forest Society’s Trees Not Towers campaign is a strategy to ensure that an industrialized corridor with multiple transmission lines does not happen to New Hampshire’s lands and scenic vistas. To date more than 2,000 individuals have contributed to the effort, raising more than $1.5 million. The support has been widespread, with donors from more than 200 of New Hampshire’s 234 towns and 29 states. No land protection campaign in the Forest Society's modern history has received broader support.
“The flood gates are open. In the last two weeks alone we have received more than 700 gifts," said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, vp for development. "This has clearly become an issue of statewide concern because we have received gifts from people living in 223 towns. We are extremely pleased with the positive response. We are showing that the little guy can compete against far-better-funded corporate interests, and we are confident that we will finish out the fundraising needed to close the remaining Trees Not Towers easements.”
Of particular importance is a conservation easement on 300 acres in Columbia, NH, owned by the Lewis family, that connects the Balsams with the Nash Stream State Forest. That land is adjacent a parcel owned by Northern Pass, and would seal off its potential use for a through route now or in the future. The Forest Society hopes to close that transaction in the next few months.
The Forest Society has previously announced transactions involving other landowners approached by Northern Pass, including Brad and Daryl Thompson and Don and Diane Bilodeau. In December, the Forest Society closed on a conservation easement on 500 acres owned by Green Acre Woodlands that is adjacent the McAllaster Farm, further frustrating the ability of Northern Pass to find any viable route for an overhead transmission line.
The Forest Society has also blocked Northern Pass’s preferred route through the Concord area by putting a conservation easement on XX acres owned by Patricia Humphrey in Chichester. Additional conservation easements granted on land south of Groveton restricts Northern Pass’s ability to widen existing distribution rights-of-way in an attempt to squeeze in their proposed private HVDC transmission line.
The Forest Society has opposed Northern Pass as it has been proposed in part because of its legal and ethical obligation to protect existing conserved lands. If built as proposed, the Northern Pass transmission line and 1,100 towers would directly and indirectly impact more than 15,000 acres of conserved land involving 153 different parcels owned by private individuals, local communities, land trusts such as the Forest Society, the State of New Hampshire, and the federal government. There can be no question that this is a project with a statewide impact on the precious natural resources that support a substantial part of our economy and traditional way of life.
Among the impacted conserved landscapes would be a stretch of ten miles through the White Mountain National Forest, which the Forest Society was founded to help establish and protect. Also directly impacted would be the Forest Society’s Rocks Estate in Bethlehem, which was protected specifically because of its outstanding views of the Presidential Range.
“For 112 years the Forest Society has worked to protect New Hampshire from threats like Northern Pass,” Difley said. “A century ago it was the drastic, wasteful overcutting of the White Mountains. Decades ago Franconia Notch was threatened by a proposed four-lane highway. We prevailed then and we intend to prevail now.”
Forest Society, 1/18/2013
by Brad and Daryl Thompson
(The Thompsons recently agreed to donate a conservation easement on their 364 acres in Stewartstown to the Forest Society to help stymie the intended route of Northern Pass.)
The choice to grant an easement to the Forest Society was an easy one. We have been adamantly opposed to Northern Pass since first hearing of the project over two years ago.
We donated an easement on 366 acres, bordering Bear Rock Road and Noyes Road, to help block the Northern Pass project. The easement guarantees that no transmission corridors will cross our property, now or ever. We are not only concerned for our scenic views in the North Country, but are equally concerned for the rest of our state.
If we don’t take a stand now, more projects like Northern Pass will be proposed, and New Hampshire will be criss-crossed with power lines from north to south and east to west.
If we can play a small part in blocking this project, it will be well worth our efforts. We feel our property is more valuable with the easement - although Northern Pass is willing to pay many times what properties are actually worth, to see their project come to fruition.
Hydro-Quebec and Northeast Utilities’ initial – and ongoing - approach to this project is appalling. Obscene amounts of money are being offered to landowners. Agents for Northern Pass are strongly pursuing property owners, playing neighbor against neighbor, causing family divisions, putting friends and neighbors at odds.
Scare tactics are used to persuade people to sell out, or be left with a view of the towers, without compensation.
We are convinced that if New Hampshire residents understood all the problems with the project – they would join us in our fight. The promise of jobs and money is over exaggerated and temporary. However, these towers will scar our landscape forever.
How can we allow this? It’s hard to believe the State of New Hampshire didn’t stop this project in its infancy. Our new governor, Maggie Hassan, as well as our senators and representatives, need to hear from us.
We welcome the opportunity to support the Forest Society in their efforts to block Northern Pass, to protect the natural beauty of the North Country, the White Mountain National Forest, as well as the central and southern parts of our state.
We will continue to fight the battle against Northern Pass, Hydro-Quebec and Northeast Utilities. We hope our neighbors will also consider donating easements to the Forest Society. As these easements last in perpetuity, perhaps we can prevent this battle from having to be fought again and again, in different parts of our state, in the years to come.
Forest Society, 1/18/2013 (updated 1/22/2013)
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests signed and recorded options on additional parcels of land in Stewartstown that will further frustrate the ability of Northern Pass to bridge the gaps in their intended route for a 180-mile high-voltage transmission line through New Hampshire.
Brad and Daryl Thompson each signed options that would enable the Forest Society to acquire conservation easements on two parcels totaling 364 acres along Bear Rock Road. Northern Pass had acquired parcels to the east and west of the Thompson's land in a failed attempt to find a way around the Forest's Society's existing blocking action.
The Forest Society also signed and recorded an option to acquire a fee interest in an additional 153 acres in what is known as the Fred Williams Place, which abuts other lands the Forest Society has under agreement.
"The net result of these additional options is that we will have Northern Pass penned in," said Will Abbott, vice-president of policy and land management.
The Forest Society is continuing to raise funds to complete conservation easements on 1300 acres that block the intended route of Northern Pass. To date $1.25 million has been raised from more than 1,200 donors representing 191 New Hampshire towns and 26 states across the country.
Forest Society, 12/14/2012
Green Acre Woodlands property offers views, wildlife habitat and public access
The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests is pleased to announce that this week we have closed on the first of the conservation easements that are part of our Trees Not Towers campaign to block the intended route of the Northern Pass transmission line as proposed.
As of this week the 530 acres owned by Green Acre Woodlands are conserved. A registered Tree Farm, the land slopes upward from North Hill Road with an elevation of approximately 2,170 feet, offering dramatic nearly 360-degree views from North Hill in Stewartstown, NH.
“We’ve wanted for several years to protect this land,” said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. “We’re pleased that the owners had the same goal in mind.
“Moreover, we are determined to protect other existing conserved lands from the threat presented by the proposed Northern Pass transmission line across 180 miles of New Hampshire, including the White Mountain National Forest. The Green Acre Woodlands parcel is a strategic part of our efforts to compel Hydro Quebec, Northeast Utilities and PSNH to look at other viable options for their private transmission line,” Difley said. “We remain confident that they will not successfully acquire an unimpeded route through northern New Hampshire, thus sparing the rest of the state through the Lakes Region, Concord and on to Deerfield.”
While mostly forested, the Green Acre Woodlands parcel includes more than 100 acres of open fields that are enrolled in a federal program that delays mowing until August to encourage grasses, forbs and small shrubs and to enhance the wildlife habitat on the property. The permanent protection of this property has been a goal of the Forest Society for several years because of its significant wildlife habitat value.
The conservation easement guarantees public access to the property, while permanently prohibiting any commercial development (outside of agriculture and forestry) including any transmission lines or towers on the property. Green Acre Woodlands retains a reserved right to withdraw three 10-acre lots that may be subdivided and sold separately.
The Forest Society’s Trees Not Towers campaign seeks to raise $2.5 million to put conservation easements on parcels of land in Coos County that will serve to block the intended route of the proposed Northern Pass transmission line. To date the campaign has successfully raised $1.15 million. More than 1,200 donations have come from nearly 200 different towns and 26 states across the country.
“We’re on track to complete this campaign in the new year,” said Susanne Kibler-Hacker, VP for Development at the Forest Society. “End-of-year contributions are coming in, and the new tax year will bring more.”
Contributions to the Trees Not Towers campaign can be made online at www.forestsociety.org/np. For more information about making a gift, contact Susanne Kibler-Hacker at 603-224-9945 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forest Society, 11/15/2012
As of mid-November, more than 1,000 donors have now made a gift to the Forest Society's Trees Not Towers campaign to disrupt the intended route of the proposed Northern Pass HVDC transmission line. To date more than $1 million has been raised, with $135,000 coming in the door since Nov. 1.
"We're extremely pleased with the response to our recent announcement that we have successfully raised enough to close on two of the four conservation easements that are a blocking action against the Northern Pass intended route," said Jane Difley, president/forester. "It's clear to me that those who value New Hampshire's scenic landscapes are encouraged and want to see us reach our ultimate goal."
Donors come from far and wide, inside and outside the state. The Forest Society has received gifts from 178 different towns across New Hampshire, showing broad, statewide support of the Trees Not Towers effort. Donations have been received from 26 states and three foreign countries. Half of the gifts have come via our website.
The Forest Society must raise $2.5 million to put conservation easements on properties owned by four landowners in northern Coos County. The goal of the campaign is to block Northern Pass from finding a route through some of the state's most scenic landscape in order to begin a genuine discussion of viable alternatives such as burial of transmission lines along transportation corridors or co-locating along an existing HVDC transmission corridor that already runs from Canada to Massachussets.
Forest Society, 11/15/2012
Although the SB361 Commission was not charged with making any specific determinations regarding the proposed Northern Pass private transmission line, most of the 150 people who showed up at a public hearing in Plymouth made it clear that they were looking for the members of the Commission to hear their concerns that the project is not right for New Hampshire. Union Leader reporter Paula Tracy's story about the hearing can be read here.
The comments from Nancy Martland of Sugar Hill received the most enthusiastic ovation from the crowd of some 150 people at the hearing.
"You are our elected and appointed representatives," Martland said, addressing the members of the SB361 Commission. "You stand for us in the face of the coming onslaught of power transmission through our towns and our state. Individuals and even towns have no power to control or manage the way energy is transported through New Hampshire, but you do, and you owe it to us to take control and manage energy transmission responsibly for the protection of our state’s natural heritage and for our future generations."
"I urge you in the strongest possible terms to look out for our interests," Martland concluded. "I urge you to resist the pressures that have been applied and will continue to be applied by big corporate interests that seek to bully New Hampshire into submission. I urge you to stick to your original recommendation that a moratorium on new construction be implemented and that elective lines must be placed underground."
Martland's complete testimony can be read here.
Forest Society, 11/15/2012
According to the draft report of the SB361 Commission, "testimony suggests that underground transmission facilities on appropriate state transportation rights of way may be technically and financially competitive with other transmission designs and locations."
The SB361 Commission was established by the legislature to identify the feasibility of using state-owned transportation corridors for energy infrastructure and, if the commission finds the use of transportation corridors feasible for such use, shall specify which corridors are most appropriate for specific utility infrastructures.
The Commission issued a draft report on Oct. 31, 2012, and subsequently held public hearings to gather input about the draft. At a hearing on Nov. 14, 2012, the Forest Society, along with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Conservation Law Foundation, Conservation New Hampshire and The Nature Conservancy (New Hampshire Chapter) offered a joint letter commenting on the draft. The letter commends the Commission for identifying four existing highway corridors that may serve future energy infrastructure needs, and for identifying key issues that it did not have time to research.
The letter also urged the Commission to consider including additional recommendations, including:
- Requiring the NH Dept. of Transportation prepare a report identifying which, if any, of the state-owned rail corridors could be added to the list of highway corridors as potentially viable for energy facilities.
- Amend the Site Evaluation Committee statute to require elective transmission developers to propose an underground alternative if it is proposing to build new overhead transmission lines.
- Recommend that a task force be appointed by the Governor to continue the research the Commission has begun, specifically to answer the six bulleted items on page five of the draft.
Read more at the No Northern Pass NH blog.