(Washington, DC) — U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Congresswomen Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) sent a letter to Acting Chief of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Vicki Christiansen, and Acting Director of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), Margaret Everson, today, urging them to meet with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to discuss potential funding options to cover federal land management costs that have fallen to states and local entities.
The delegation wrote, “We write to bring your attention to concerns raised by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department regarding the rising cost of federal land management to states and other parties. In order to address these concerns, we request that officials from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) meet with representatives from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to discuss ways in which the federal government and state partners can work together to improve the efficacy and efficiency of federal land management, including opportunities for additional support for law enforcement activities in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) and FWS lands.”
In their letter, the delegation notes that USFS and FWS manage approximately 13.8 percent of the entire land mass of New Hampshire, but much of the responsibility for daily activities on this land, including outdoor recreation, law enforcement and search and rescue operations, falls to state and local agencies like the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. According to the Department, 47 percent of all search and rescue operations in the state take place on federally owned lands, placing a significant burden on the self-funding agency.
Moreover, the delegation notes that the USFS already provides reimbursements to the Coos and Grafton county sheriff’s departments in New Hampshire for patrols of the WMNF during the summer season and encourages the agencies to evaluate the feasibility of making similar arrangements with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
The delegation concluded the letter, “We recognize that the USFS and FWS work diligently to maintain our nation’s public lands and support the outdoor recreation economy. Further cooperation with state agencies and local partners will only bolster those efforts. To ensure that New Hampshire public lands remain safe and accessible to Granite Staters and visitors from around the country, we urge you to meet with officials from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to discuss funding options.”
The full letter is available here.