Forest Advocate Legislative Update: Current Use bill

Matt Leahy | January 30, 2024

As we noted on January 12, the Ways and Means Committee in the New Hampshire House of Representatives held a public hearing on January 17 on House Bill 1484, legislation that would exclude from New Hampshire’s Current Use Program any forest land that a landowner enrolls in a forest carbon market program.

HB 1484 is intended to address concerns about these forest carbon markets. While the Forest Society recognizes the questions surrounding forest carbon offsets, we continue to be opposed to HB 1484.

The Forest Society’s concern with the bill is that it conflicts with the fundamental premise behind the Current Use Program (RSA 79-A). Specifically, the law’s Declaration of Purpose states” It is hereby declared to be in the public interest to encourage the preservation of open space, thus providing a healthful and attractive outdoor environment for work and recreation of the state's citizens, maintaining the character of the state's landscape, and conserving the land, water, forest, agricultural and wildlife resources.”

Even if a property is enrolled in a carbon market, it is still open and undeveloped; it meets the spirit and intent of the Current Use Program. Furthermore, public policy should not restrict landowners from using this tool. Therefore, we are opposed to HB 1484.

The Ways and Means Committee will be meeting in early February to vote on the bill. The exact date has not been scheduled yet.