Bill Text: NH SB200 | 2019 | Regular Session | Amended

Bill Title: Relative to wildlife corridors.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Passed) 2019-07-16 - Signed by the Governor on 07/12/2019; Chapter 243; Effective 09/10/2019 [SB200 Detail]

Download: New_Hampshire-2019-SB200-Amended.html



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AN ACT relative to wildlife corridors.


SPONSORS: Sen. Watters, Dist 4; Sen. Bradley, Dist 3; Sen. Ward, Dist 8; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Rep. Gourgue, Straf. 25


COMMITTEE: Energy and Natural Resources






This bill requires the recognition and protection of wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as a public good.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

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In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nineteen


AN ACT relative to wildlife corridors.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  Legislative Findings.

I.  The general court recognizes as a public good that habitat connectivity, including wildlife corridors, habitat linkages, and riparian and coastal corridors, be maintained and expanded.  It is the policy of the state of New Hampshire to encourage, wherever feasible and practical, voluntary steps to protect the functioning of wildlife corridors through various means, as applicable.  Wildlife corridors assist in adapting to warming temperatures and shifting habitats and creating habitat strongholds, protect ecosystem health and biodiversity, and improve the resiliency of wildlife and their habitats in response to such existing and potential climate changes.

II.  Areas containing diverse ecological and geological characteristics are vital to the continual health and well-being of the state's natural resources and of its citizens.

III.  Connectivity between wildlife habitats is important to the long-term viability of the state's biodiversity.  Preserving and connecting high-quality habitat for wildlife can create habitat strongholds.  Increasingly fragmented habitats threaten the state's wildlife species.

2  New Paragraph; Department of Transportation; Optional Rulemaking.  Amend RSA 21-L:12-a by inserting after paragraph XVII the following new paragraph:

XVIII.  Establishing and maintaining wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1.

3  New Paragraph; Fish and Game; Definitions; Habitat Stronghold.  Amend RSA 207:1 by inserting after paragraph XIII the following new paragraph:

XIII-a.  Habitat stronghold: A high-quality habitat that supports the ability of wildlife to be more resilient to increasing pressures on species due to climate change and land development.

4  New Paragraph; Fish and Game; Definitions; Wildlife Corridor.  Amend RSA 207:1 by inserting after paragraph XXXV the following new paragraph:

XXXVI.  Wildlife corridor:  A habitat linkage that joins 2 or more areas of wildlife habitat, allowing for fish passage or the movement of wildlife from one area to another.

5  ATV and Trail Bike Operation on State Lands; Intent.  Amend RSA 215-A:41, I(c) to read as follows:

(c)  Protection of wildlife and ecologically important areas, including wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1.

6  Use of Statewide Trail System.  Amend RSA 216-F:2, I to read as follows:

I.  The trails within the system shall be held, developed and administered under this chapter primarily as recreational trails for hiking, nature walks, bird watching, horseback riding, bicycling, ski touring, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, mushing, and off highway recreational vehicles and the natural scenic beauty thereof and the wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1 therein shall be preserved insofar as is practical; provided, however, that the commissioner may permit uses of trails and land acquired hereunder, by the owner of adjoining land or others, in such a manner and at such seasons as will not substantially interfere with the primary use of the trails.  Use of motorized devices by mushers shall be limited to trails designated as appropriate for motorized use.

7  Community Heritage Investment Program; Definitions.  Amend RSA 227-M:2, V to read as follows:

V.  "Eligible resource" means a natural, cultural, or historical resource including archaeological sites; historic buildings and structures which house cultural events and programs; historic properties including buildings and structures; historic and cultural lands and features; ecologically significant lands; existing and potential public water supply lands; farmland; forestland; habitat for rare species or important wildlife; wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1; lands for recreation; riverine, lake, estuarine, and ocean shorelands; scenic areas and viewsheds; and wetlands and associated uplands.

8  Community Heritage Investment Program; Road Expansion.  Amend RSA 227-M:13, I to read as follows:

I.  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the New Hampshire land and community heritage authority shall recognize that the public interest and public safety and welfare may, from time to time, require minor expansion, minor modification, or minor alteration of existing roads within the state highway system.  After review and approval by the authority, and notwithstanding RSA 227-M:14, the department of transportation may obtain interests in lands acquired by the authority under this chapter adjacent to state highways.  Permissible expansion, modifications, or alterations under this section shall include drainage easements, slope easements, lane widening, the addition of a passing, climbing, or turning lane, protection of wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1, or similar adjustments, but shall not include construction of a new highway or portion thereof, construction of a bypass for an existing highway, or similar major alterations.  Approval shall not be granted if reasonable and prudent alternatives exist nor if individual or cumulative approvals are likely to materially impair the conservation or preservation purposes for which the parcel was originally protected.  Projects determined by the authority to be outside of the scope permitted by this chapter shall require approval from the general court.

9  New Section; Administration of Transportation Laws; Wildlife Corridors and Habitat Strongholds.  Amend RSA 228 by inserting after section 46-b the following new section:

228:46-c  Wildlife Corridors and Habitat Strongholds.  The department of transportation shall consider wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1 in road mitigation projects and where feasible as determined by the department, including stream crossings, with expansion of capacity and redesign of culverts for potential changes in precipitation and stream flow.  The department shall incorporate wildlife corridors that intersect transportation infrastructure into project planning and mitigation efforts to minimize the effect of roads on wildlife connectivity, as such information is available.

10  Conservation Number Plate Fund; Use of Funds.  Amend RSA 261:97-c, II to read as follows:

II.  The funds transferred to the fish and game department shall be used to support the New Hampshire nongame species management act established in RSA 212-B, and for the conservation of other wildlife determined by the executive director to be in need of restoration or protection.  This may include:

(a)  Management measures, including applied field research, necessary to maintain and promote self-sustaining wildlife populations, species and habitat protection, and acquisition and management, and the protection of wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1.

(b)  Provide information to resource professionals, landowners, and school children to enhance awareness and promote protection of New Hampshire's wildlife, including wildlife corridors and habitat strongholds as defined in RSA 207:1.

11  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.