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SPNHF files as Northern Pass intervener, opposes new 40-mile ROW in Cos

December 15, 2010
CONCORD — The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) will file a motion either today or tomorrow seeking to intervene with the federal Department of Energy (DOE) to oppose the 1,200-megawatt high-voltage direct current (HVDC) Northern Pass power line project as it is now proposed, according to a Forest Society press release. Northeast Utilities (NU), parent company to Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) and NSTAR, is proposing the project to bring Hydro-Quebec hydropower from Canada.

"For more than a century the Forest Society has worked to promote the wise use of New Hampshire's forests, and their complete protection in places of special scenic beauty," explained SPNHF president-forester Jane Difley.

The nonprofit organization reached this decision after discussions were held by members of its Board of Trustees, input from its members, and aligning with its ongoing mission.

"The formal review process for deciding whether or not Northern Pass is ultimately in the interest of the public will be a long one, and there are many questions still to be answered surrounding a variety of environmental, economic, and energy-related issues," Ms. Difley said. The federal and state permitting process is expected to take at least two years.

"However, the proposal to clear at least 40 miles of new power-line right-of-way (ROW) through public and private forestland in Cos County, including the many conserved lands within the proposed corridor, would not appear to be in the best interests of New Hampshire's forests nor the tourism-based economy those forested landscapes help support," she said. "We will be advocating eliminating or minimizing the construction of new transmission corridors. We believe there are other alternatives that should be considered."

The Forest Society says it also is concerned about impacts from potential expansion of an existing ROW through conserved lands and environmentally sensitive areas, including the White Mountain National Forest.

In the interest of protecting the legitimate interests of the Forest Society, its members, and the New Hampshire public, the Forest Society will also work to ensure that DOE's environmental review process is independent, thorough, and free of any actual or apparent conflicts of interest and also advocate appropriate conditions to any DOE permit that may be granted, Ms. Difley said.

SPNHF was at the table when the Connecticut River Headwaters conservation project was hammered out in the early part of this decade when the lands went on the block. SPNHF was part of a coalition of conservation organizations that raised some $42 million from federal, state, and private sources to keep 171,500 aces of forestland in Pittsburg, Clarksville, and Stewartstown undeveloped, with the bulk maintained as "working" forest in private ownership.

SPNHF also played a key role creating the two-lane Franconia State Parkway, avoiding the construction of a four-lane I-93 to mar the beauty of Franconia State Park that serves as a memorial "to the men and women of N. H. who served the nation in times of war."

SPNHF is a private, non-profit membership organization that holds more than 700 conservation easements to permanently protect 100,000 acres of New Hampshire's landscape from further subdivision or development. The Forest Society also owns 50,000 acres of land in 170 reservations in 95 communities, including the Washburn Family Forest in Clarksville and The Rocks Estate in Bethlehem.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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