New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Says Conservation Funding is Good for State Economy

April 10, 2012

NH Congressional Delegation: Conservation Funding Good for NH’s Economy

Congressman Bass, Eastern Mountain Sports CEO, and entire NH delegation
call for robust funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund

 As spring returns, and New Hampshire residents and tourists from around the world plan to experience the state’s outdoors firsthand, the CEO of the state’s largest outdoor retailer – along with all four members of the state’s Congressional delegation - are advocating in Washington for a program that has a proven track record of bringing economic and environmental benefits to the state.

Will Manzer and Congressman Charlie Bass appeared together at a press conference at the EMS store in Concord to stress that LWCF is as much about economic investment as it is about natural resource protection. LWCF is the most important conservation program in the country, providing funding to ensure forestland remains productive, wildlife habitats are conserved for hunting, fishing and viewing, and land is open for recreational activities. LWCF is not funded by tax dollars; rather, the program is funded from a fraction of proceeds from offshore oil and gas leasing royalties.

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is important to me because it is important to the people of New Hampshire,” said Congressman Charlie Bass. “I have been leading efforts in the House for years to restore adequate funding for the program. LWCF creates jobs, conserves our natural resources and provides millions of Americans with quality access to the outdoors - and doesn’t increase our taxes one-cent. I will continue fighting for this program, and am proud that my NH colleagues on both sides of the aisle are working with me to ensure robust funding for this conservation program.”

Last month, Congressman Bass led an effort to deliver a letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders requesting funding for LWCF at $450 million – far above the 2012 level. Bass’ letter drew bipartisan support from over 150 House members, including NH 1st District Congressman Frank Guinta.

“Protecting New Hampshire’s natural resources, wildlife habitats, hunting and fishing access, and outdoor recreation is something all Granite Staters support,” said Congressman Guinta. “I am a strong supporter of LWCF and will continue advocating for efforts that are both good for the environment and our state’s economy.”

EMS CEO Will Manzer underscored the importance of continued and sustained funding of LWCF for the outdoor industry. “The outdoor recreation industry thrives in the Granite State, and is an important driver of the economy, because there is easy access to the outdoors and substantial opportunities for all of us to enjoy our rivers, mountains, ocean, and forests. Investing in open space is an investment that has paid off, and will continue to pay off here in NH in terms of employment, tourism, and economic activity. I applaud Congressman Bass and the entire NH delegation for crossing the partisan divide and advocating strongly for LWCF funding.”

Outdoor Recreation is a vital driver to NH’s economy. It supports over 53,000 jobs in New Hampshire, generates $261 million in annual state tax revenues, and produces nearly $4 billion in annual retail sales and services- this accounts for about 7.8% of NH’s annual Gross State Product.

“Conservation is critical to keeping New Hampshire’s economy strong and preserving our state’s natural heritage,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who led a bi-partisan letter to Senate Appropriations Committee leaders seeking support for LWCF. “Through this conservation fund, New Hampshire has been able to protect thousands of acres—safeguarding jobs in our state’s outdoor recreation and forest industries, and ensuring that future generations will be able to enjoy New Hampshire’s natural beauty. I’d like to commend all the conservation groups who’ve worked together to support this important program.”

Senator Kelly Ayotte, who was a co-signer of the Senate letter and voted to include LWCF funding onto the Senate version of the Transportation Bill said “LWCF is important to our conservation efforts in the Granite State, helping ensure that our wildlife habitats, working forests, pristine waters, and outdoor recreation opportunities are preserved for future generations. I am pleased to be a strong supporter of this program.”

In addition to outdoor recreation, LWCF provides funding for the Forest Legacy Program administered by the NH Division of Forests and Lands. Since its inception, the Forest Legacy Program has protected a great diversity of landscapes in NH primarily to support private landowners keeping their land forested and in active production – benefiting our landscape and economy by ensuring that the state’s forest products industry has a sustainable supply of quality timber. The economic importance of the forestry industry in New Hampshire is substantial – creating jobs in logging, manufacturing, and associated timber management. Every year forest-based manufacturing contributes about $1.15 billion, with more than 8,100 jobs and a payroll of $384 million. Forest landowners in NH received more than $30 million from timber sales in 2009, resulting in timber taxes of more than $3 million flowing into local communities.

“As a program, LWCF is a triple win for New Hampshire. It supports jobs in the outdoor and forest products industries, it conserves natural resources and wildlife for future generations, and it does not increase our taxes,” concluded Congressman Bass. “Ensuring that LWCF receives adequate funding by Congress has been, and will continue to be, a top priority for me in Washington.”

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