Published DateTo the editor,
I have two problems with the state.
First and foremost, actions taken by the state Legislature in 2011 that replaced the Comprehensive Shoreline Protection Act (CSPA) with the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act (SWQPA) RSA 483-B severely weakened the protection needed for our lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.
The water quality of all lakes, ponds, rivers and streams is significantly affected by the type of land use and its vegetation. Shoreland trees, saplings, shrubs and natural ground cover and their undamaged root systems act as natural filters from flows of surface, subsurface and deep ground water run-off, reducing nutrients such as fertilizers, sediment, and pollutants from entering the water body.
While Wolfeboro elected to reject the entire SWQPA for the CSPA, I tried to greatly simplify my proposal to ameliorate only two of the deficiencies of the SWQPA through the petitioned Warrant Article 7 on the Gilford 2013 Annual Town Meeting Warrant. The first deals with cutting of trees within the first 50 feet of the waters edge (termed reference line) and is based on a point system assigned to trees and saplings of various diameters. A point system existed under the CSPA and still exists under the SWQPA. However, the effect of the new law is a reduction in vegetation requirements within that critical 50-foot buffer, thereby reducing the filtering capacity and ultimately negatively affecting the water quality of the water body. This portion of the warrant article is correct and I stand by it.
However; the second part of the Article states that "No herbicides or pesticides shall be applied to ground, turf or established vegetation within 150-feet of the reference line, termed the Natural Woodland Buffer under RSA-483-B". Subsequent to my submittal of my petitioned warrant article, I was made aware of some negative consequences of this portion of the article by two farmers in town, who stated that the article would impose a real problem for them in their endeavors to provide produce for the public. It was certainly never the intent to cause unnecessary harm to our already regulated local farmers.
That brings us to my second problem with the state. After hearing the concerns, I tried to amend or withdraw the article and learned that I couldn't under any circumstance. Consequently, a lot of unnecessary time and effort had to be expended by a number of people via a hearing, preparations for the Deliberative Session, and now an article for you to vote on where the petitioner is asking you for a "No" vote.
So to all who signed my petition, my apologies for not seeing these repercussions beforehand. More important, my apologies to our water bodies for having to endure another year of degrading water quality thanks to our legislator's actions. This article has nevertheless sparked conversations with Planning Board members to better protect our shorelines. Look for another like article in next year's Town Warrant.