Good Plan for Hanover Water

Valley News – Sunday, May 10, 2009 – page E2
Forum – Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

The Hanover Conservation Council, a private non-profit organization incorporated in 1963, supports the current proposal before voters on May 12 to consider municipalization of the Hanover Water Works Company (HWWC).  The proposal includes a new Town of Hanover and Dartmouth College equal ownership structure (50:50) of a reconstituted land management company. Currently the Town holds a 47.2% owner interest in the HWWC and its land (the College has 52.8%).

We believe that the proposal to municipalize the water company is a significant step forward in terms of equal ownership of the land resource. Focus on this proposal also offers an excellent opportunity to explore the permanent long-term protection of the watershed land. We are concerned that local ordinances and current zoning do not provide adequate long-term protection of the essential watersheds against future development. The Council strongly agrees with the Town of Hanover’s Master Plan (2003) and Open Space Priorities Plan that this land should be permanently protected.

The 1440 acres of watershed land in question, which feed the surrounding drinking water reservoirs, comprise the largest undeveloped and ecologically-significant tract remaining in Hanover. Based on both size and location, the land supports well-managed forests, prime wildlife habitat, and excellent agricultural soils. It offers crucial connectivity between Lord’s Hill, Oak Hill and the Appalachian Trail.

The community has also expressed keen interest in this land, its protection, and in potential public use. Now is the time to engage in an open dialogue to explore available conservation options. We propose that the Council, Town of Hanover, Dartmouth College and interested citizens work in partnership to plan for protection of this critical watershed land for everyone’s benefit far into the future. In the meantime, the proposal to municipalize the water company and equalize the ownership of the land resource is an advance toward longer-term conservation goals. Visit the Council website to learn more about this important resource in our community (www.hanoverconservation.org)

Betsy McGean
President, Hanover Conservation Council

Molly Donovan
Executive Director, Hanover Conservation Council

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