If the state ends up cutting back the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program budget, the result could end up being far more costly than the program’s costs alone.
The House Finance committee had recommended passing a $47 million cut package last month that included taking $1 million from the Land and Community Investment Heritage Investment Program(LCHIP), which would have left the program with $721,000 for Fiscal Year 2011. As part of the biennial budget passed last year, beginning in Fiscal Year 2011, 50 percent of the money generated for LCHIP through its dedicated fund would be re-directed to the general fund. The $1 million cut would have been on top of that 50-percent reduction.
The House tabled the package of cuts last month. It needs a two-thirds vote to come off the table.
LCHIP (www.lchip.org) was created in 2000 by the legislature as a matching grant program for communities and nonprofit organizations around the state in order to conserve “the essence of what makes us New Hampshire,” said Deborah Turcott Young, the program’s executive director. LCHIP provides grants to municipalities, counties and nonprofit organizations. LCHIP works with organizations not only to provide funding, but also to generate matching dollars from other entities, such as the federal government or private foundations. Young said LCHIP currently has an average matching rate of $6 ? LCHIP leverages $6 for every $1 it provides.
“We really look from a heritage and quality of life perspective and how we can ensure the assets and resources are still here for generations, preserving the essence of what we’re all about in New Hampshire,” Young said.
LCHIP’s reach is substantial. It has provided more than $27 million in grants, has touched more than 100 communities and helped conserve more than 260,000 acres of land and 99 structures and sites, Young said. Projects range from straight preservation of land to renovations and rehabilitations to historic structures and sites.
On July 1, the dedicated fund would be cut in half, so that 50 percent of the revenue goes to LCHIP and the other half goes to the general fund. If that happens and if the additional $1 million is cut, LCHIP would be working at about 25 percent. Along with severely limiting LCHIP’s grant capacity, it would also hurt an already meager staff. The staff is funded through the conservation license plates program and the interest earned on the recording fees, Young said.
The leveraging capability is the most important component. Without LCHIP’s match, federal dollars would be compromised. The message that doesn’t get across as well is what LCHIP does for the bigger picture. When land is going to be protected, surveyors are hired. When buildings are rehabbed, consultants and contractors are hired and the workers who are hired are likely local workers.
“It becomes somewhat of its own little economic stimulus,” Young said.
In the latest round of funding, LCHIP provided about $3 million worth of grants. That $3 million leveraged $35 million in matching funds, an $11 matching ratio, Young said.
“When you don’t have money to put in, not only do projects not happen, folks, independent contractors or those who are self-employed, don’t get the work that they might have had from our projects,” Young said. “Right now, towns, with the trickle down, towns don’t have as much to put in.”
Some projects are massive, such as preserving 31,000 acres of land in the North Country. Others are smaller yet directly impact a given community, such as work done at the Langdon Meeting house in Langdon. LCHIP has provided money for the Capitol Center for the Arts and the Carter Hill Orchard in Concord and the Valley Cemetery in Manchester. Young said people can look individually and see the specific projects LCHIP affects, but the bigger picture is key.
Funded by a dedicated source, LCHIP’s money comes through recording surcharges at the Registry of Deeds. A $25 surcharge is tied to four documents: deeds, mortgages, mortgage discharges and plans. It was set up that way to directly balance growth and development with the conservation of resources, since the documents are tied to real estate transactions, Young said. That system began in July 2008.
“What money has come in always goes back out the door to help impact the state,” Young said, adding that LCHIP leverages as much as possible. A project has to be at least a one-to-one dollar match.
If the legislature chooses not to redirect LCHIP funds, Young is projecting to have about $3.4 million in its coffers, with the potential for closer to $4 million. However, Young stressed, given the poor economy and that she was working with less than two years of data, those statistics could be hard to pinpoint. If they held, even with a $5 match rate, LCHIP would be able to leverage $20 million for the state, she said.
“It’s not just the money that’s granted out, it’s about the total value of the work being done as a result of LCHIP dollars,” Young said.
Young said for years there has been the “people versus trees” argument when it comes to LCHIP versus social services.
“We would never say we’re more important than meeting the individual needs of the people of the state, but what we do, we feel, is contribute to meeting those needs,” Young said. “We look at LCHIP as protecting resources. We don’t see it as an independent argument, people versus trees. The same people who need social services or something else enjoy the [benefits of LCHIP].”
— Jeff Mucciarone
How rain affects mosquitoes
Maybe more, maybe less
With all the rain dropped on the region last week leaving plenty of standing water, residents could be in for a lousy year in terms of mosquitoes. But it’s not definite yet.
“It might set us up for some problems,” said Alan Eaton, an entomologist with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. “We’ve got to be careful not to assume that that’s cast in stone. A lot can happen after this.”
There are more than 45 species of mosquitoes in New Hampshire and a number of them are floodwater species, which take advantage of pools of water left over from heavy rains for breeding. Those species are likely off to a good start. Some of them are starting to hatch now. There are also “container species” that rely on containers or tree holes for breeding. Those are probably doing well also, Eaton said.
The heavy rains followed by some warm weather gets mosquitoes off on the right track. If warm, dry weather persists, that’ll help dry up breeding habitat.
“If it all dries up now, then literally, the mosquito problem will dry up as well,” Eaton said.
Many species aren’t active until later in the year, so the excess of water isn’t necessarily helping or hurting them. Some types of mosquitoes have one or two generations per year, while some have many.
There are likely a few adults around now, but for the most part, it will be a little while before mosquitoes become more prevalent. Breeding success depends on a number of factors, including temperature. Once it hits 50 degrees, people could start to see mosquitoes more and more, Eaton said.
It’s hard to know whether the conditions will lead to more problems with mosquitoes carrying diseases such as Eastern equine encephalitis.
“We can guess a little bit ... but it’s really too early to predict,” Eaton said.
Some good news is that the overload of rain could actually have helped to wash away mosquito larvae.
“This is the first of many hurdles they have to go through. Who knows what the next 10 or 15 they go through will be like?” Eaton said.