Conservation Considers Properties, Projects for Pipeline Mitigation

The Conservation Commission is considering several properties for purchase with mitigation funds from the Northeast Energy Direct project.

Based on a rough calculation of the 1.4 acres of impact it’s anticipated would result from the proposed pipeline cutting through Londonderry, the Town is eligible for $200,000 toward mitigation.

Representatives from Kinder Morgan met with members of the Conservation Commission at their Nov. 17 meeting to discuss potential projects they could include in their wetland mitigation plan, to be submitted to the State as part of the permitting process for the overall project in Southern New Hampshire.

Ultimately, the State would have the final say on the proposed mitigation projects for permanent wetland impacts inside the 100-foot-wide construction corridor along the pipeline, according to Adele Fiorillo, senior principal scientist for Normandeau Associates, an environmental consulting firm.

If Kinder Morgan’s mitigation plan were not accepted, the company would be required to provide mitigation through a donation to the Aquatic Resource Mitigation (ARM) Fund.

If the mitigation funds do go to the ARMs Fund, there’s no guarantee the money from that grant would go back to Londonderry.

“The State does like us to work with communities and work for other options for mitigation,” Fiorillo said. “It’s a pretty high hurdle to get a package into the mitigation program. It needs to meet the schedule of the project; so, if you have something shovel ready, that would be great.”

Additionally, Fiorillo said the Wetlands Bureau favors unique parcels with the potential to serve rare and endangered species, or parcels with a high priority for development or the potential for restoration.

Additionally, the State prefers projects that have a close alignment with impacts from the project; and because the $200,000 in mitigation funds will not cover the total cost of a land purchase in Londonderry, Fiorillo noted it will also be important to show the Town has the resources to complete the project included under the mitigation package.

“The State is willing to look at conservation lands, culvert replacements and they’re really starting to look at sustainability and climate change,” she said. “The final hurdle is that it may be a conservation or mitigation program we think fits, but it’s really up to the State when they review the permit to accept it.”

Kinder Morgan environmental contractor Kasia Ingram asked the Commission to provide details within the next 30 days for a project the Commission thinks would be a good fit for their mitigation package.

Commissioner Mike Speltz said the Commission is in negotiations with three landowners, one of whom would close quickly and has a sizeable property he thinks would satisfy the criteria for parcels accepted under the mitigation plan.

Because of the sensitivity of the negotiations with the property owners, the Commission did not discuss further the properties to be considered for inclusion in the mitigation package, but plans to provide Ingram and Fiorillo with more information in the next month.

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