To the editor:
I am a member of the New Hampshire Wildlife Coalition, a group representing scientists, birdwatchers, hikers, paddlers, hunters, anglers and members of the conservation community. We are calling on Gov. Chris Sununu to veto SB 129.
By passing SB 129, the New Hampshire Legislature makes it easier to negatively impact endangered species. This bill was written to try to streamline the Alteration of Terrain (AoT) permitting process, yet it will create even more work for an underfunded agency and slow the permitting process down even further. NH Fish & Game now needs to define what “appreciably jeopardize” (a species) means, they will need to calculate how much a species is worth and how much an impact to that species will cost, and they need to create and manage a mitigation fund that in the Wetlands Bureau requires two full-time staff and an 18-member committee to oversee.
SB 129 has ignored nearly two years of work on this very issue by those of us in the conservation community. Instead of finding a long-term solution to reasonably avoid impacts to endangered species, SB 129 allows developers to write a check in exchange for irrevocably damaging them.
SB 129 is irresponsible, dangerous and short-sighted. We ask Gov. Sununu to veto this bill and recommit to funding an agency that is already short-staffed and unable to meet permit review timelines.
New Hampshire Wildlife Coalition is a strong voice for wildlife and their habitats. For additional information or to speak with a representative, email email@example.com.
Rick Van de Poll, Ph.D.