On Wednesday, January 6, the New Hampshire General Court – that is, the N.H. House of Representatives and the N.H. Senate -- reconvened for its 2016 legislative session. This year the NHTOA will advocate for or against 70 bills that deal with all aspects of forest and land management. We have already learned there are several bills proposing to modify New Hampshire’s Renewable Portfolio Standard law (RPS). One bill seeks to allow large Canadian hydro power to qualify for New Hampshire RPS energy credits, and another seeks to sunset the law in four years. The NHTOA will be opposing both these bills. Given the recent closure and slowdown of several pulp and paper mills in Maine, the RPS and its support of the biomass industry are more important now than ever.
The NHTOA has asked Representative Gene Chandler to submit a bill to help address a perennial problem for timberland owners: cleaning up illegal dumping on private property and repairing property damage from off-highway recreational vehicles (OHRV). The NHTOA’s bill would establish a landowner’s right to redress for cleaning up illegal dumping and restoring property damaged by illegal OHRV use. The issue of a landowner’s right to redress came to light earlier this year when a NHTOA member called the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to report that several oil drums had been illegally dumped on their property off a class VI road. Making matters worse, someone had shot holes in the drums, causing them to leak. As the member tried to clean up the mess, they quickly learned that not only would it be costly, all the cleanup obligations were to NHDES and the only recourse the landowner had would be through a civil action. In the NHTOA’s proposed legislation, a landowner’s right to collect cleanup costs and attorney’s fees from the party doing the illegal dumping will be codified. The bill will also establish these rights in the OHRV law when it comes to trail and property damage
Check the NHTOA website, and watch for Forest Fax emails, for updates on N.H. legislation impacting our forest industry.