December 26, 2011

Balsams Donations Double over Christmas Weekend

Going into the long Christmas weekend, donations to the Forest Society's Save the Balsams Landscape campaign were just over $100,000--not a bad result after barely two weeks. However, the holiday weekend was a real boost to the campaign as total donations had jumped to more than $200,000 before the end of Christmas Day.

December 23, 2011

Northern Pass Interference in Balsams Land Conservation

The Forest Society is aware that Northern Pass continues to attempt to interfere in a transaction between two private parties, the Tillotson Corporation and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Curiously, PSNH and Northern Pass seem unclear on the fact that the negotiations are over and that they are an unwanted suitor. The Forest Society has a signed legal contract to acquire conservation

December 21, 2011

Northern Pass Aims to Block Balsams Conservation

As Annmarie Timmins reports here in the Concord Monitor, Northern Pass is so unhappy about the Tillotson Corporation's decision to pursue a conservation outcome for the lands surrounding the Balsams that they had their attorneys complain to the NH Charitable Trusts Division. Their complaint? That Tillotson should have taken their offer instead, and was somehow obligated to do so.

To learn more about the Save the Balsams Landscape campaign, click here.

We believe that the Attorney General’s office will agree with the Tillotson Corp that the transaction outlined in our Purchase and Sale agreement with them is in the best interests of the North Country. Tillotson Corporations' responsibilities include more than genuflecting to whomever shows up with tthe biggest pot of money.

The attempt by Northern Pass to interfere with a transaction between two private parties is a clear indication of their desperation. It’s the moral equivalent of using eminent domain to force a private landowner to sell to them.

"We understand that corporations like Northern Pass are focused on the bottom line," said Jane Difley, president/forester of the Forest Society. "However, like many of our fellow landowners and our conservation partners, we also understand that money isn’t the only thing that matters in New Hampshire. Our forests, our land, scenic views and iconic places matter deeply to us. And they can’t always be bought."

December 12, 2011

New Hampshire Property Rights at Risk

The Judiciary Committee of the NH State Senate voted 4-0 on December 8 to adopt a recommendation to the full Senate. If adopted by the full Senate in January, it will have the effect of throwing the constitutional property rights of all New Hampshire landowners under the bus.

New Hampshire voters adopted a constitutional amendment in November 2006 that specifically prohibits the use of eminent domain by private developers for private development projects of any kind. NH voters adopted this amendment by a 85% to 15% margin. Today, New Hampshire faces the first big test of this amendment. Northern Pass LLC, a private developer proposing to build a power line through 180 miles of New Hampshire to be used exclusively by Hydro-Quebec to export its electricity to markets in southern New England, claims it has access to and will use the state power of eminent domain if needed to complete the Northern Pass project. These claims ignore the very constitutional rights secured by the vote of NH citizens in 2006.

In the 2011 legislative session, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 317-51 to pass House Bill 648, which proposes to amend current law governing the use of eminent domain by utilities and to bring this law into alignment with the 2006 constitutional amendment. The House passed bill was written to make clear in current state law that eminent domain is inaccessible to private transmission projects like Northern Pass. The Senate Judiciary Committee vote of last week gutted the House language, and replaced it with new language that completely avoids the goal of the original bill.

NH landowners who want to protect the hard-won property rights secured by Article 12-a are left with one recourse for immediate relief: We must persuade at least 13 members of the 24-member New Hampshire State Senate to stand up for the property rights granted by Article 12-a. The State Senate needs to join the House of Representatives in making clear that private development projects like Northern Pass DO NOT have any right to condemn private property. Contact your State Senator today (click here to find out who your Senator is and how to make contact). Tell your State Senator that you expect him or her to defend Article 12-a, and not to support the recommendation of the Senate Judiciary Committee.