My Turn: Northern landowners taken for a ride

Last modified: Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The recent statement by Sen. Jeannie Forrester about Northern Pass and her perverted position on private property rights should be of great concern for those of us who own land in northern New Hampshire.

In response to the many changes proposed to the Northern Pass project, Forrester wrongly claims that Northern Pass is trying to build this project on private property without the permission of the landowners. This statement is so far removed from truth that it is troubling coming from an elected official.

What she is referring to is the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests’ claim that it owns the land under Route 3, and that it should control what happens on that public road. This is the society’s latest scheme to stop the transmission project. Of course, the society also told Coos residents that if they gave it hundreds of thousands of dollars, it would buy land to stop the Northern Pass in Dixville. Or if we gave the group easements over our property they would stop the project.

The society got a lot of people’s money and now controls a lot more land, but it didn’t stop Northern Pass. All the society did is hurt some unsuspecting landowners by playing on their emotions.

What Forrester fails to mention is that the public highways belong to all of us. She conveniently forgets that she, the society and others pushed Northern Pass to bury the line in public roads. Finally, she also fails to mention that the state of New Hampshire has allowed electric, telephone and other lines in our public highways for the last 100 years.

It is ironic that an environmental group that has tied up thousands of acres of land from productive economic use in Coos County is now claiming that they also control the state highway.

While Forrester is quick to champion the questionable claims of a Concord environmental group, she dismisses the truth and the reality that many North Country small businesses and individuals effectively used their property rights to sell or lease land to Northern Pass.

If Forrester wants to be a true defender of private property rights, she should look out for the many hard-working people who own land and want to use it to help improve our local economy, not those who seek to lock it up and throw away the key.

If the forest society and other groups like it continue their efforts to hinder private landowners from utilizing their property to its full potential, there will be no other options for us other than to charge fees for all uses, including hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling, ATVs, etc. or any public use whatsoever.

Multiple use has always worked in northern New Hampshire in the past and will in the future unless politicians like Sen. Jeannie Forrester continue down this elitist path.

(Allen Bouthillier is president of AB Excavating in Lancaster.)