New Hampshire’s conservation funding program, the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP, is designed to help local communities protect natural, cultural and historic resources.
LCHIP is an independent state agency which makes matching grants to NH communities and nonprofit groups to conserve and restore the state’s most significant land and historic buildings.
- Since 2000, more than $27 million has been spent by the program to fund 240 grants in 141 communities.
- In all, more than 212,000 acres have been conserved and more than 142 historic sites restored.
- In the early years of the program, the state budget allocation ranged from as much as $7 million a year to a low of $500,000.
- The funding mechanism was changed in 2008, when the program was moved out of the state budget and granted its own dedicated funding source: a $25 fee collected on the filing of certain documents at the county Registries of Deeds. The intent was to provide a guaranteed and steadier stream of funding to support the programs good work. (Concord Monitor)
- However, in the five years after the dedicated fee was established, more than half of the revenue had been diverted to fund general state government. These raids on the dedicated fund were justified as a temporary measure driven by a fiscal emergency.
- Voters surveyed by UNH overwhelmingly rejected this budgeting shift, with 79 percent disapproving of the use of these dedicated conservation funds for general budget purposes. (Concord Monitor)
Under the Committee of Conference agreement (FY 2015) LCHIP was allotted the full $8 million dollars that it’s expected to raise.
- Both the Governor’s budget and the House budget had requested $5.3 million for LCHIP, with the general fund receiving $3 million.
- A provision in the House budget would have allowed any money above these amounts to go to LCHIP.