NHTOA News

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On Friday, Feb. 8, 2019, State Sen. Jeb Bradley toured DiPrizio Pine Sales in Middleton, N.H., on a fact-finding visit to gather details regarding net metering and how House Bill 365 will help operations like DiPrizio gain energy independence as well as provide incentives for more renewable energy investment in solar, small-scale hydro, and biomass energy in New Hampshire.

 

Sen. Bradley listens to Marcella Perry, former NHTOA board member, talk about the benefits House Bill 365 will bring to DiPrizio Pine Sales while NHTOA executive director Jasen Stock looks on.

 

When all the solar panels are installed on these stands and this solar array at DiPrizio is operating next May, it will provide more than enough power to run DiPrizio's sawmill and retail business.

 

DiPrizio also has a biomass energy burner to supply heat. It can also produce electricity.

HB 365 basically mirrors last year’s net metering bill (SB 446), which the NHTOA supported, the Governor vetoed, and a veto override campaign failed to override the veto in the N.H. House by just 12 votes. HB 365 will raise the net meter cap (i.e., the ability to self-generate electricity) from the current limit of 1 megawatt to 5 megawatts. More NHTOA wood processing members (i.e., sawmills) are looking to produce their own electricity through biomass boilers, solar arrays, or in some cases small hydro power. Most of these businesses need more than 1 megawatt of electricity, so the current cap is restricting their ability to self-generate. HB 365 will fix this problem. Last week the House Science, Technology and Energy committee held a marathon hearing on this bill, and although the testimony overwhelmingly supported HB 365, the opposition was strident, claiming this bill is a ratepayer subsidy to those businesses by shifting power costs. The fiscal note attached to last year’s net metering bill, completed by the NH Public Utilities Commission, stated net metering is cost neutral and in fact would reduce costs, as the local power being generated from these private sources reduces the amount of power needing to be transmitted into the state.

 

 

The NHTOA has prepared a list of talking points for people who plan to attend any of the public hearings the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has scheduled to hear testimony on NHDES's second draft of wetlands rules. 

The new draft rules contain both good and bad news for landowners, loggers, and foresters. It appears the NHDES heard the NHTOA's concerns earlier this year about the first draft of wetlands rules, and the new draft is an improvement from the January draft. However, sections of the rules are still very confusing to navigate, with multiple cross-references and apparent incorrect cross-references. Moreover, the new draft rules do not improve the current wetland rules (i.e. no crossing dimensions or other standards were modified), and there are several new definitions that appear to extend the regulatory authority of the rules into other areas beyond water quality (e.g. wildlife).

At the public hearings (the schedule appears below), it will be important to emphasize that:

  • The rules need to include a separate forest management section.
  • The rules need to clarify that corduroy is not "fill." 
  • Economic and management impacts need to be quantified.
  • Permit review timelines need to be defined.
  • Administrative burdens should not be shifted on to land managers. 

The full text of the NHTOA talking points is available here

We urge our members to attend one or more of the seven public hearings on the second draft that NHDES has scheduled from Dec. 3rd through the 13th.  Here are dates, times, and locations:

  • Monday, Dec. 3, 2018: NHDES Headquarters, Room 208C, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 3, 2018: NHDES Headquarters, Room 208C, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018: Keene Parks and Recreation Center, 312 Washington St., Keene, N.H. 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018: Laconia City Hall, 45 Beacon St. East, Laconia, N.H. 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018: North Country Resource Center, 629B Main St., Lancaster, N.H. 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018: NHDES Pease Field Office, Room A, 222 International Dr., Suite 175, Portsmouth, N.H. 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018: NHDES Pease Field Office, Room A, 222 International Dr., Suite 175, Portsmouth, N.H. 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

 

New Hampshire's Current Use Board (CUB), an agency of the N.H. Dept. of Revenue Administration, has proposed a new schedule of Current Use fees as well as new assessment rules. The new fees comprise relatively modest increases, ranging from a 0.4 percent increase for White Pine acreage to 6.3 percent for Hardwood acreage.

The proposed changes to the assessment rules can be downloaded here

Public hearings on the changes are scheduled as follows:

  • Monday, December 10, 2018: Lancaster Town Hall Auditorium. 6:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, December 12, 2018: Keene Parks and Recreation, 2nd Floor - Room 21. 6:00 p.m.
  • Friday, December 14, 2018: DRA - Training Room, Concord, N.H. 9:30 a.m.

 

 

 

Earlier this month, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) issued new draft rules for activities, including logging, in and around wetlands. This is the second set of draft rules, following the first draft issued in January. The first draft was under development for several years, and the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA) was a member of the wetlands rules advisory committee. However, public hearings held after the first draft was issued brought a torrent of criticism, forcing NHDES to go back to the drawing board.

The new draft rules contain both good and bad news for landowners, loggers, and foresters.

The good news:

  • It appears NHDES heard the NHTOA's concerns earlier this year.
  • This draft is an improvement from the January draft, but it still needs more work.

    The bad news:

  • Sections of the rules are still very confusing to navigate, with multiple cross-references and apparent incorrect cross references.
  • These rules do not improve the current wetland rules (i.e. no crossing dimensions or other standards were modified).
  • There are several new definitions that appear to extend the regulatory authority of the rules into other areas beyond water quality (e.g. wildlife).
  • Under the new draft rules, regulating timber management in or adjacent to a prime wetland is still very subjective.
  • Managing timber in floodplains will be more difficult.

New definitions in the new draft rules include:

  • “Floodplain wetland,” which is a wetland located within a 100-year floodplain;
  • “Priority resource area” (PRA), a new jurisdictional area subject to a number of specific conditions. PRAs raise permit review status (i.e. all activities in a PRA automatically require a major project permit);
  • “Temporary impacts,” describing adverse conditions or effects that will be reversed when the authorized work has been completed and pre-construction conditions have been re-established. The term includes but is not limited to ruts caused by heavy machinery that are smoothed when the work is completed and the installation and subsequent removal of swamp mats, construction mats, corduroy roads, geotextile fabric, or other erosion or sediment control practices.

This is a very complex document and the NHTOA is still reviewing it to understand the practical and financial impact these rules would have on forest management. We urge our members interested in this to also look at the summary of the status of the wetlands rulemaking here. And please look for future updates with more details in the NHTOA's magazine, The Timber Crier, and in our e-newsletter, Forest Fax.

But overall, the second draft is a big improvement from the first draft, and the NHTOA thanks the NHDES for hearing our concerns. The NHTOA is ready to work with NHDES on sections of the draft that we think still need some re-drafting.

We urge our members to attend one or more of the seven public hearings on the second draft that NHDES has scheduled from Dec. 3rd through the 13th.  Here are dates, times, and locations:

  • Monday, Dec. 3, 2018: NHDES Headquarters, Room 208C, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 3, 2018: NHDES Headquarters, Room 208C, 29 Hazen Drive, Concord, N.H. 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018: Keene Parks and Recreation Center, 312 Washington St., Keene, N.H. 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018: Laconia City Hall, 45 Beacon St. East, Laconia, N.H. 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018: North Country Resource Center, 629B Main St., Lancaster, N.H. 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018: NHDES Pease Field Office, Room A, 222 International Dr., Suite 175, Portsmouth, N.H. 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018: NHDES Pease Field Office, Room A, 222 International Dr., Suite 175, Portsmouth, N.H. 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

If you’d like to make comments on the draft rules at any of these public hearings, please emphasize the following two points:

  • The final rules need to be easy to understand. Any landowner, or land manager should be able to read them and know what approvals their project will require. There are sections within these rules that still need considerable clarification.
  • The final rules also must recognize the unique nature of forest management. The rules should recognize the uniqueness (e.g. ephemeral impacts, habitat enhancement, etc.) of forest management projects and that forestry is a beneficial land use for water, wildlife, and forest health. These rules should promote forest management.    

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