NHTOA News

For additional news check out the NHTOA Facebook page

The five-part "Caring for Your Forest" workshop series provides a comprehensive overview of useful, practical information to guide landowners toward productive, sustainable woodlot management. 

Three sessions remain in the series:

Woodlot Valuation and Economics – Online

           April 14, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Most woodlot owners will sell timber at some point during their tenure. Learn how trees, sawlogs, and other forest products are measured and sold and how foresters and logging contractors determine stumpage prices. Join Andy Fast, UNH Cooperative Extension Forest Industry Specialist, and Greg Jordan, Rockingham County Extension Forester for a review the economics of owning and managing a woodlot in NH.

Wildlife Habitat Assessment: Part One - Online

April 21, 2021, 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Join Matt Tarr, UNH Cooperative Extension Wildlife Specialist, to learn techniques you can use to assess, create, improve and maintain foraging, nesting, denning and cover for native birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians on your woodlot.

Wildlife Habitat Assessment: Part Two – In Person

           April 24, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Tree Nuts for Turkeys and Other Wildlife. Join NHTOA member and landowner Roscoe Blaisdell, UNH Cooperative Extension Wildlife Specialist Matt Tarr, and National Wild Turkey Federation Biologist Matt DiBona for a woodlot tour discussing what food do turkey and other wildlife prefer and get the best nutrition from? Learn what species of trees are mast producing trees and how you may be able to increase the presence of these species on your property.

 

Registration fees per class: Members: $5.00 per person; non-members: $15.00 per person except for "Wildlife Habitat Assessment: Part Two," which is $15.00 for NHTOA members and $25.00 for non-members.

Register on the NHTOA website (www.nhtoa.org); Zoom details will be emailed once registration is complete. Call the NHTOA office for detailed information, (603) 224-9699.

 

This year's 110th Annual Meeting of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association is scheduled to take place on Thursday, May 13, beginning at 6 p.m. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this year's meeting, like last year's, will be held online via the Zoom platform.

Information about the meeting, including an Annual Meeting Program and the 2020 NHTOA Annual Report, will be sent to all NHTOA members the week of April 19. The packet will include a card with login information for the virtual Annual Meeting. 

 

 

The N.H. Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the N.H. Fish and Game Department (NHFG) will host a public hearing on April 8, 2021, to solicit comments on proposed changes to New Hampshire’s Alteration of Terrain rules (AoT). 

Background

New Hampshire law (RSA 485-A:17) states that any person proposing to dredge, excavate, place fill, mine, transport forest products, or undertake construction in or on the border of the surface waters of the state, and any person proposing to significantly alter the characteristics of the terrain in such a manner as to impede the natural runoff or create an unnatural runoff, shall submit a plan to the NHDES and obtain a permit. For these activities NHDES issues one of three permits:

  • Alteration of Terrain Permit (AoT);
  • General permit-by-rule (“transporting forest products” falls into this category); or 
  • Timber harvesting permit-by-rule.

Currently there are no additional permitting/paperwork requirements for forest product transporters to obtain a general permit-by-rule, provided the “transportation is occurring within an area bounded by permanent roadways.” For a timber harvesting operation to obtain a “timber harvesting permit-by-rule,” four conditions must be met:

  1. An intent to cut has been filed and signed;
  2. The project adheres to Best Management Practices for erosion control;
  3. If needed, the operation obtains a wetlands permit; and
  4. Roads are not being converted to a non-timber harvest operational use.

Two years ago, the state (NHDES) lost a N.H. Supreme Court case when the agency was sued for not following state rules when issuing AoT permits. This case focused on how the AoT permitting process handled threatened and endangered species. The AoT rules, at the time, contained the following condition for issuance of a permit:

(h) The project has been designed in a manner that will not result in adverse impacts to state- or federally-listed threatened or endangered species or habitat for such species that has been determined by the executive director of the New Hampshire fish and game department to be critical pursuant to RSA 212-A:9.

In its decision, the court ruled that because the rule states “will not result,” NHDES was illegally issuing permits if there were any adverse impacts. Until this ruling, NHDES did consider impacts when issuing permits as the agency would balance any impact with restoration or mitigation efforts. The court ruling ended that practice, forcing NHDES to adopt an emergency rule. The emergency rule basically states the NHDES will not issue an AoT permit unless the Executive Director of the N.H. Fish and Game Department has first determined the project will not result in the destruction or modification of habitat critical to a state or federally listed threatened or endangered species as demonstrated by the report of a study performed by a trained wildlife biologist. 

Proposed rule change

The rule change proposal being discussed on April 8 modifies the threatened and endangered species requirement by simply requiring a consultation with NHFG when a threatened or endangered species is found in a project area requiring an AoT permit, and any conservation measures recommended by NHFG shall be incorporated into the AoT permit application. To see a copy of the proposed language, click here.

NHTOA efforts

Although general permits-by-rule for transporting forest products and Timber Harvesting permits-by-rule are not directly impacted by the proposed rule change (because it applies to AoT permits), the NHTOA will submit comments to NHDES/NHFG seeking clarification that general permits-by-rule for transporting forest products and Timber Harvesting permits-by-rule remain unaffected by the proposed rule. Primary points we will make include:

  • Forest management and transportation of forest products from a timber sale are short-term activities that generally have no long-term negative impact;
  • Forest management is a traditional and desirable land use that should be encouraged and not encumbered with additional regulatory reviews and approvals;
  • Forest management projects benefit most wildlife species (threatened/endangered, and non-threatened/endangered);
  • Most landowners voluntarily participated in the wildlife surveys that identified any potential threatened or endangered species. It would be unfair to reward that altruism with potential restrictions on their ability to manage their forest.

We encourage our members to submit written comment to the NHDES/NHFG echoing these points and asking the agencies to affirm that this proposed rule change will not impact general permits-by-rule for transporting forest products and Timber Harvesting permits-by-rule. NHDES/NHFG are accepting written comments via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Written comments may also be submitted by first-class mail to NHDES, PO Box 95, Concord, NH 03302.

The deadline for written comments is 4 p.m. on April 15. 

If you wish to attend the zoom hearing on April 8 at 2 p.m., click on this link.

On January 15, 2021, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signed and issued the 2021 Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for industrial stormwater discharges. The 2021 MSGP will become effective on March 1, 2021 and will replace the 2015 MSGP. Existing MSGP permittees must submit a Notice of Intent to EPA, along with a revised Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, that reflects compliance with new requirements by May 30, 2021. Facilities that have not previously been covered under the EPA MSGP must obtain coverage immediately. 

There are several significant changes in the new MSGP that affect permittees in the timber products industry (MSGP Sector A), including sawmills, planing mills, and other facilities where logs are stored and handled. Therefore, familiarity with the new permit is important for members of the New Hampshire Timber Owners Association (NHTOA) and The Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association (NELMA). The most significant changes affecting the timber products sector relate to monitoring of stormwater discharges from timber products facilities. The MSGP permit now requires an expanded schedule of benchmark monitoring, as well as a more robust response to pollutant threshold exceedances by way of Additional Implementation Measures (AIMs) and additional monitoring. Expanded discharge monitoring is also required if a facility meets any of the following conditions: it discharges to any identified ‘impaired waters,’ has seal-coated paved surfaces on site, and/or uses creosote treatment or stores creosote as part of its operations.  

In collaboration with NHTOA and NELMA, Stillwater Environmental Engineering (SEE) in Orono, Me., will provide a brief overview training to help timber industry operators and staff to understand and comply with the new 2021 MSGP requirements. SEE professionals have extensive knowledge and experience in providing environmental and regulatory compliance services to industries throughout the Northeast. With many clients in the New Hampshire lumber industry, SEE is in a unique position to offer a customized, industry-specific translation of the new federal requirements. 

The online training will be held on Thursday, Feb. 25, beginning at 4 p.m. Click here for the Zoom link.