OPPOSE agency rulemaking that weakens NH’s Endangered Species Conservation Act

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WHAT:      NH Department of Environmental Services and the NH Fish & Game Department will hold a joint hearing on April 8 to get input from the public on the treatment of Threatened & Endangered wildlife species by those who want to develop projects inside of their habitats.

HOT TO ATTEND:  On Thursday, April 8, begins at 2:00 PM – Use the following link to connect to the hearing on WebEx – https://nhgov.webex.com/nhgov/onstage/g.php?MTID=ec45ed5a37fb95 4e8e2798e35ba0443ba  

If trouble, see full meeting notice here — https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/legislative/documents/fis-1000-rn.pdf

WHY OPPOSE: This NHDES and NHFG preliminary rulemaking would weaken their agencies’ implementation of the NH Endangered Species Act that ironically is intended to help endangered species improve, not be impacted. In other words, the proposed rulemaking almost guarantees that the Threatened & Endangered wildlife species will suffer harm and will not improve.

GIST OF THE PROPOSED RULES:

·        The NHDES rules would revert back to relying on the unreliable Natural Heritage Bureau database (DataCheck) that is known for its incompleteness and inadequacy. Even NHDES officials say so. And yet NHDES does not want the complete picture of endangered species who are using the proposed development sites, so is getting rid of the wildlife assessment-study that was built into the NHDES rules back on June 2, 2020! NHDES would rather be blind and ignorant to the effects that the development project would have on endangered wildlife. The NH Supreme Court has had a problem with that attitude in the past, but NHDES continues to buck against the Court.

·        See the proposed NHDES rules here: https://www.des.nh.gov/sites/g/files/ehbemt341/files/documents/env-wq1500-amd-draft-rules.pdf

·        The NHFG rules would blatantly allow jeopardizing the continuing existence of endangered species, as long as the development projects minimize the harm. The rules also allow developers to mitigate harm they choose not to avoid. In the proposed rules NHFG defines harm as: “any act which actually kills or injures individuals of a threatened or endangered species, or which acts to destroy, degrade, or adversely modify the habitat supporting the species by interfering with breeding, hibernation, reproduction, feeding, sheltering, migration or overwintering behaviors that are a part of its normal or traditional life cycle and that are essential to its survival and perpetuation.”  Minimized harm is still real harm.

·        See the proposed NHFG rules here: https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/legislative/documents/fis-1000-draft.pdf

CONNECTION TO SENATE BILL 129:

Both NHDES and NHFG are basing their proposed rules on the passage of NH Senate Bill 129 that introduces the word “minimize” and the phrase “appreciably jeopardize” and sets up a program of payments into a mitigation fund for developers who want to pay their way out of protections on site.

For More Information

If you have questions about this alert, feel free to contact Suzanne Fournier at [email protected]  (603) 673-7389. For further information on SB 129 and this rulemaking, see website of Voices of Wildlife in NH at https://voicesofwildlifeinnh.org/

Stay Informed!

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