Conservation NH is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to "enrich the quality of life in New Hampshire by improving the environment and conserving natural resources." They do this, in a non-partisan way, by developing and improving environmental policies, engaging citizens and businesses about the importance of those policies, holding elected officials accountable for their voting on environmental issues and educating citizens about how they can best get involved in the electoral process to advance environmental policies.
To put it into laymen's terms, Conservation New Hampshire is the middle man between the citizens of NH and Lawmakers. Their job is to echo the environmental concerns of the people, for the people, in the hopes that state and local environmental policy will change for the greater good of future generations.
Why Conservation NH?
When I first conceived of the idea to Run Across NH in 2008, I had it in my head that it would be more than myself running out there on the lonely roads. Thanks to the support of our friends from Make-A-Wish, we had quite a crowd that came out to run those final 10 or so miles into the finish. In 2009, due to bad weather, the numbers of those who participated was lower. Both 2008 and 2009's runs were done as part of a fundraiser for two local non-profits.
This year, because of the gloomy economy, I knew that fundraising just wasn't the way to go.. or was it? I remember my initial mission from 2008 - I wanted people to get outside. But it doesn't start there. After looking at the maps of this years run; it was evident that a majority of these trails travels through private lands with easements and right of ways. I began to think of the major storm of activity over the years that needed to transpire for these two trail networks to even be open for use. Thats why I've connected with Conservation NH.
This could very well be my final year living in New Hampshire. It's a New England state with it's own list of quirks of course. While New Hampshire does include the White Mountain National Forest and a few other smaller mountain area's; it's still rather limited in terms of the amount of open spaces for folks to use. An estimated 1.8 million people live in the Southeastern corner of NH. Many of them live in New Hampshire but commute to Massachusetts to work. Many folks move to NH from Mass to avoid ever increasing state taxes to the south and dream of a "quieter" place. Except, Southern NH is now outgrowing itself. Urban sprawl has taken over in the last 15 years, evidenced primarily by the new I-93 Widening Project; a highway expansion plan that interferes with numerous area wetlands yet continues to move forward anyway to ease growing concerns of over crowded and dangerous highways.
|I-93 Construction - Eagle Tribune|
|Typical Northbound I-93 Traffic on Mass Border, Evening Commute|
Vermont has a government funded agency dedicated to the preservation and use of lands (VDEC). In previous years I've run in the Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Run and the Vermont 50 as well as races in Pittsfield, VT. Combined, these races work with over 150 separate landowners in one small corner of Vermont to get the races off the ground. In thinking about why there is no 100 Mile ultra in New Hampshire, the answer is simple, no land owner in NH will cooperate with such an event. Fear of being sued and the "hermitization" of people's connection to their homes prevents people from even getting involved in local conservation pleas. Case in point; Bear-Paw Regional Greenways. A local ground from Deerfield, NH who have single handedly contracted the assistance of landowners willing to conserve our states land. One of their missions was to connect Bear Brook with Pawtuckaway via a trail network stretching all of 10 miles. After 15 years of work, Bear-Paw has indeed secured many parcels of land for generations to enjoy... but there is still no 10 mile trail? Why? Unwilling, and stubborn, NH landowners.
As I move forward with this years Run Across New Hampshire, my mind is heavy with the gratitude of not just the 100's of landowners who helped make these two Greenways possible, but the other agencies involved in seeing that process through. The society of the Protection of NH Forest, The Nature Conservancy, Conservation NH, NH Audubon, NH Preservation Alliance and so on. It takes a HUGE effort.
This is where I hope to land in a year and settle down. Colorado is an amazing place. Just thinking about the cities of Boulder and Golden alone sends chills up my spine. These two cities have open spaces preserved for eternity, a network of trails that weave in, out and around town and connect to the majority of long distance trails in the area. It makes me wonder.. why doesn't NH pick up this same mentality. If you build it they will come right? I mean.. How many people in Concord know that you can run to Hooksett or Bow all on trails? That Penacook is connected to the Hospital.. by trails. How many NH residents know that you can run or bike all the way to the Great Bay on the now defunct rail-bed?
I've chosen Conservation NH because I feel that their work in preserving our states greatest resource is both tireless and needed. Both greenways are within a half hours drive to about a half a million people and many of them don't even know it exists. I want people to join us the weekend of October 23-34; and join Conservation NH in exploring these greenways to appreciate the lands we do have here in New Hampshire with the hopes that you'll find importance in preserving more land for future generations.