Senator Gregg Takes Lead on Coastal Conservation (NH)
NEW HAMPSHIRE, 4/18/2007: The Trust for Public Land (TPL) applauds U.S. Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) for introducing the Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection Act (CELP) in the Senate today.
The CELP Act authorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to issue grants for the purpose of conserving threatened lands in coastal and estuarine. This bill authorizes annual funding for the federal program and must be matched in part by non-federal funds. U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) is the lead co-sponsor. As of press-time, 15 other Senators had signed on as co-sponsors and was referred to the Senate Commerce Committee.
CELP was created by Congress in FY 2002 in order to “protect those coastal and estuarine areas with significant conservation, recreation, ecological, historical or aesthetic values, or that are threatened by conversion from their natural or recreational states to other uses.”
Thus far, this program has appropriated over $215 million to the nation’s coastal states. This federal investment has leveraged more than an equal amount of state, local and private funding, demonstrating the importance of coastal protection throughout the nation and the critical role of federal funding to its success.
In New Hampshire, thanks to the leadership of Senator Gregg, over $10 million of CELP funding has been appropriated to projects in New Hampshire to protect critical coastal lands including 84 acres situated at the headwaters of the Winnicut River in North Hampton, 23 acres of historic marshland on Parson’s Creek in Rye, 340 acres along the Piscassic River in Newfields, and 10 acres of the Sagamore Creek headlands at Tucker’s Cove in Portsmouth.
“TPL would like to thank Senator Gregg for his leadership and long-standing support for protecting our remaining coastal open spaces in New Hampshire and across the nation. Given the importance of healthy, productive and accessible coastal areas, a federal commitment to state and local coastal protection is a much-needed sound investment,” said Alan Front, TPL’s Sr. Vice President. “The CELP program has already provided $10 million to help New Hampshire’s local communities to protect vanishing coastal resources and to provide public access to their waterfronts and we look forward to realizing the benefits of this new legislation to protect more land for public benefit.”
Our nation’s coastal zone is under significant pressures from unplanned development. In fact, it is estimated that by 2025, nearly 75 percent of the nation’s population will live within 50 miles of the coast, in addition to millions more who enjoy America’s storied coastlines. From New Hampshire to California, beaches and waterfronts have always been the destination of choice for Americans. Fully one-half of the nation’s gross domestic product, $4.5 trillion annually, is generated in coastal watershed counties, inexorably linking our coastal zone with the economic health of the nation.
As a result of this economic boom, rapid, unplanned development has marred the once-pristine viewshed and substantially reduced public access to the coast. The resulting increase in impervious surfaces has correspondingly increased non-point source pollution and seriously degraded coastal and estuarine waters. The loss of coastal wetlands has drastically impaired estuaries, some of the most productive habitat on earth. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy has also stressed the importance of land conservation as part of its broader recommendations to Congress and the nation.
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. With funding from the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program, Forest Legacy Program, Land & Water Conservation Fund, state and local open-space funds, and other public and private investments, TPL has helped to protect more than 2.2 million acres across the country. TPL depends upon the support of individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org