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Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

August 12, 2008

Senator Odell is Chairman of  the Ways and Means Committee, and member of the Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee;  Finance Committee; Citizens Trade Policy Commission; State Park System Advisory Council; and Comprehensive Cancer Plan Oversight Board.

Senate District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.


      On a very bright and warm day a couple of weeks ago, I spent the day looking over a beautiful part of the our region’s landscape.  Chris Wells and Brian Hotz from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests picked me up that morning and we headed out to see the land and ponds that are part of the Ashuelot River Headwaters project.

       The Society is working with the John P. Wright Trust to conserve 1,750 acres in my town of Lempster.  The Wright Trust is a legacy of the Wright Silver Polish Company that was a family business in Keene for generations.  The trust is divesting of its landholdings and has given the Forest Society the opportunity to conserve the land.  The overall Ashuelot River Headwaters project will permanently protect 2,020 acres surrounding the source of the Ashuelot River, which flows through 25 New Hampshire towns to the Connecticut River, and provides drinking water to the City of Keene.

       The project will conserve a large block of the highest quality forest, watershed and wildlife habit in southern New Hampshire, protect downstream drinking water supplies, preserve recreational and scenic values, and secure the crucial connection between large tracts of protected land to the north and south.  The project is a true cooperative venture with the Wright family heirs, the Forest Society, owners of adjacent land who are considering easements on their property, financial grants from the NH Land and Community Heritage Investment Program (LCHIP) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are all part of the mix.

       On our tour, we visited Long Pond and Sand Pond.  Both are ponds Sandy and I have enjoyed canoeing on over the years.  Two miles of undeveloped frontage on the ponds along with 11,000 feet on the Ashuelot River are included in the project.  An important state-designated snowmobile corridor would also be secured.  Fishing, hunting and snowmobiling along with opportunities for hiking and water sports will all be enhanced.

       A friend of mine, Rob Martin of Newport, has hunted on these lands for 35 years. He considers the project “real important” because it not only protects the land but the tract also abuts Pillsbury State Park and the already protected lands of the Andorra Forest and Pitcher Mountain in Stoddard.  Connecting tracks of protected land is important to larger animals as they travel great distances for food and mating.  


    The crown piece of the project, for me, is the bald summit of Silver Mountain.  This is a popular hiking and blueberry picking destination with spectacular views of our area.  You can see nearby ponds and lakes along with homes and farms down in the valleys.  When we were there we picked a few blueberries that had already matured.  And Brian told us of photographs from decades ago when families would have annual reunions and picnics on the summit.  It is nice to know that future families will be able to do the same, thanks to the Ashuelot River Headwaters project. (Map)    

     Senators are often visited in Concord by lobbyists and advocates for dozens of organizations to encourage their support for various projects and activities.  It is a little unusual for them to come to your hometown.  But Chris Wells, who lobbies for the Forest Society, wanted me to understand the tie between long term secure funding of LCHIP and conservation efforts like the Ashuelot River Headwaters project.  If you believe it is important to conserve for the use of future generations tracts of unique land like the Wright property, then the connection is clear.  I also felt very positive about the future of New Hampshire and our region after our tour.  All the groups involved pulling together to conserve this land in Lempster is very encouraging.    

     Brian Hotz has the job many of us who love the outdoors think we would like to have.  He works much of the time in the field looking over proposed conservation projects, working with landowners and helping New Hampshire retain our natural places that are so important.  Brian’s parents, incidentally, live in Acworth.

 *   *   *  

     Study, study, study.  That is not advice to youngsters as they see their summer vacation ending and schools opening in a couple weeks.  Legislators, too, will face many hours of study this fall while serving on one or more of the study and oversight committees created during the five months of the 2008 legislative session.  The legislature passed bills to create 49 committees such as the Committee to Study Truancy Laws and the Commission to Study and Develop Legislation to Regulate the Operation of Retail Health Clinics and Limited Service Clinics, Also Known as Mini Clinics.  Those committees generally have deadlines such as December 1 to report back to the legislature and then they go out of business.  Another 9 permanent committees were created such as the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy Board and the New Hampshire Council on Suicide Prevention.

       Legislation was passed to extend reporting dates for 30 committees already in existence including the Commission to Determine the Appropriate Public Use of Flood-Damaged Property Purchased by the State.  The only place this applies to is state property in Alstead purchased following the October, 2005 flood.  Overall, 92 study or oversight committees or commission were addressed in one legislation session.  And, bills passed repealing just four committees.  Too much study? 

State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733


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