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Environmental Quality of Life: New State Study Mirrors Raymond Survey
By Carolyn Matthews 8-25-13

Results of a July 2013 public opinion environmental survey by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute reveal that environmental quality of life issues continue to matter to most NH citizens.

Ninety-eight percent of those surveyed agreed that clean water is very important to their quality of life. Scenic values of forest and farm lands rank second at 66 percent, followed by outdoor recreation and use of forests for wood products, also at 63 percent.

In late 2007 in a Raymond Mater Plan survey also conducted by the University of New Hampshire, citizens were asked similar questions.  The importance of protecting groundwater/drinking water supplies ranked very high or high for 89 percent of Raymond citizens surveyed, more than any other priority category. Protecting lakes, rivers and wetlands ranked very high to high for 77 percent of citizens surveyed. 

Lamprey River in Raymond

Preserving open space ranked very high to high for 69 percent of surveyed citizens. Although taxes were ranked a primary concern in Raymond, 22 percent of citizens surveyed said they’d pay higher taxes to purchase land for conservation. Raymond citizens were less willing (in 2007) to pay higher taxes for any other local need.

To avoid higher taxes and continue to support conservation, most communities allocate a portion of their Land Use Change Tax (LUCT) to conservation land purchases. Per statute, RSA 79-A:25, LUCT is paid by a developer when land is taken out of the Current Use assessment program. The rationale provided by the Society for the Protection of NH Forests is that money acquired when land is removed from open space is logically used to protect open space elsewhere in the town.

Nottingham and Chester allocate 100 percent of LUCT money to conservation, Deerfield and Fremont allocate 50 percent, and Candia allocates 25 percent. Raymond and Epping (along with Hancock) currently allocate no LUCT money to conservation.

The Carsey Report also discovered a disconnect between what citizens favor and the facts that they’ve used to make their choices. For example, most New Hampshire residents say that they understand a moderate amount or a great deal about climate change; however, only about half can pick the correct definition of “green house effect” from a list of three choices, and even fewer know other basic facts. The study concluded that the gap between interest and knowledge signals a need for more effective communication from the scientific community. “Political beliefs often filter what knowledge people choose to acquire,” the study noted.

According to the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions, maintaining adequate open space has more than scenic value. Open space ensures that forests, meadows and wetlands continue to be  available for filtering stormwater and maintaining  adequate supplies of clean drinking water.

For Raymond and its neighboring towns, where most residents depend upon private or small community wells, maintaining open space helps offset rising levels of impervious pavement that come with development.  Studies have shown that water quality diminishes rapidly when impervious cover exceeds 10 percent.  At 25 percent, significant impairment occurs. Raymond is currently at just under 10 percent.

Reference Information:
1.The University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute

2.The Forest Society Municipal Conservation Fund Guidebook

3. NHACC Resources Information

4. NH Stormwater Manual

 

 

 

"He that loseth his honesty hath nothing else to lose."
~ John Lyly ~


"Any man, more right than  his neighbor, constitutes a majority of one." 
-- Henry David Thoreau