Monday, March 07, 2011

Live Free and Pony up for Conservation!
While I have been living in Washington State since 1989, my heart will always be in the Granite State. New Hampshire made me who I am-conservation minded, fiscally conservative, fiercely independent, and socially libertarian. Boy, that’s a mouthful! My home state has always been independent and libertarian. The state’s slogan is, Live Free or Die. It was uttered by General John Stark (a New Hampshire boy of course) at the Battle of Bennington during the American War of Independence.

In New Hampshire money isn’t wasted. There’s no state income tax. No sales tax either. The state looks for creative ways to solving problems and making life better on very little public funding. The state has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, and some of the best schools and health care facilities. It is neither particularly liberal nor conservative. It’s New Hampshire—a place where you don’t have to wear a helmet on a motorcycle, or wear a seat belt driving. You don’t need a license for a gun and you can get a marriage license if you’re gay.
When it comes to conservation, NH is bold and innovative. The state has been a pioneer in public-private conservation initiatives. Nearly 20% of the state’s land is protected. The state has the largest amount of federally protected land in New England. But the majority of the state’s protected land is through the private sector in land trusts and conservation easements. And almost all of that private land is open to the public.

I realized long ago even as a young idealist that it is true, that government is not the answer. We the people are. Of course we need government and we need regulations—and we need public land. But government simply cannot provide all of our conservation needs. I realized that back around 1985. I realized too that I had an obligation to help protect my planet. While I encourage my elected officials to do the right thing when it comes to conservation—and they do at times—I also realized that it is up to me and my fellow citizens to be involved, too. That is why I support land trusts and conservation groups. That is why I donate money and time to them. That is why I encourage all of you-liberal-conservative-moderate alike to get involved. Don’t wait for the government to buy that cherished open space threatened with development. You need to do it! Get involved with a land trust. They are some of the least-controversial conservation organizations around. You want to save land? Buy it! How American is that?

This year I received my 25 year lapel from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF). Founded in 1901, SPNHF is now one of the country's most effective statewide land conservation organizations. They are dedicated to protecting the state's most important landscapes while promoting the wise use of its renewable natural resources. SPNHF has been responsible for: helping to protect over one million acres of open space in the state; promoting good land stewardship through education and by example; and advocating for public policies that encourage the wise conservation of natural resources.

They were the first conservation group I joined. I have been a member now for more than half of my life. I am very proud of this organization. They have done more to save and protect NH than any other organization or government. The state of New Hampshire and I owe them so much. I look at this organization as a model of what conservation organizations should be. There’s nothing extreme about them and they are made up of and supported by folks from all walks of life. They support protecting important wildlife habitat as well as maintaining sustainable natural resource industries, primarily forestry. They were one of the driving forces behind establishing the White Mountain National Forest too; the largest open space in New England.

The White Mountains and New Hampshire helped instill in me a strong conservation ethic. I thank SPNHF for all of the inspiration they have given me and I wish them the most success for the future. I plan on continuing to support them as well as the various other organizations that I have joined since here in my new home state of Washington. I actively support the Skagit Land Trust, Conservation Northwest, and Friends of the Columbia Gorge—three more organizations that are innovative and leading governments to do the right thing instead of waiting for the government to do it. Conservation starts with you. Get involved. Living free and living on a planet of plentiful parks and preserves unfortunately is not free. We have an obligation to put our money and our actions where our words and thoughts are.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

Did you know that although New Hampshire is the Granite State, a goodly portion of the rock, including Mount Washington, is metamorphic rock not igneous.