The state’s natural environment and many outdoor recreational amenities are a magnet for young people. Stay Work Play supports measures to protect these irreplaceable natural and recreational amenities and the economic benefits they make possible. New Hampshire puts forth legislation to conserve the environment; the 2020 Outdoor Recreation Legislation describes some of what is happening with legislative bills this year.
Brett Gagnon, one of the many young members on the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions, gives us insight as to what his role is with the NHACC and why he loves it in this three-part blog series:
Why did I want to become a Conservation Commission Member?
As a young child, my family was always active outdoors. We would camp, hike, canoe, and ski all over New England. This really started to solidify my love for nature at an early age. In my teenage years, I began riding all-terrain vehicles around my family home. I would go out for hours on end, exploring trails, getting muddy and enjoying the company of my friends.
As land started to sell off more and more in the region, the amount of open space and subsequent ATV trails quickly diminished. It wasn’t long after when my father joined the Pelham Conservation Commission. Like many vocal residents, he did start off as a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) kind of guy. Although what differentiated him from other NIMBYs was that he kept going! He has since become the chairman of the Pelham Conservation Commission for over 17 years now. During this time, the commission, under his leadership, has saved over 1,000 acres of land. This land now provides miles of trails stretching around ponds, lakes andbeautiful landscapes.
The “apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” as they say – a few years back, I joined the Hudson Conservation Commission, following in my father’s footsteps. The years of traveling NH, in search of great outdoor activities provided me with a deep love for my surroundings here in NH. This made my decision to volunteer in my community, as a conservation commission member, an easy one. I wanted to take the love I have for nature and craft it into a passion that I could share with others. With that, I am proud to say that I have been a major contributor in the protection of over 100 acres and the sponsor of numerous warrant articles to fund conservation and protect open space.
You may ask: “what does this have to do with Stay Work Play in NH?” The fact that both myself and my family are so passionate about protecting land in the region is all because of the love we have for New Hampshire’s resources. Growing up in NH not only influenced my passion for saving the environment, it also made my connection with family even stronger.
Is being a Conservation Commission Member interesting?
Although I wish I could explain how innovative, fun and exciting being a Conservation Commission volunteer is, unfortunately its more of a sense of responsibility that drove me to become a member originally. With that said, an opportunity is what you make of it.
The basic task of protecting vital resources and reviewing wetland exception applications can be a pretty technical process. Learning about New Hampshire’s Revised Statutes Annotated (RSA’s) around wetland protections, Conservation Commission Powers and financial abilities can sometimes be boring, but information is power. However, as the time passes you do start to build relationships with your fellow volunteers through the various activities and events that take place. When building new hiking trails for residents to enjoy or having a ribbon cutting ceremony on a new piece of conservation land, members always find time to relax and enjoy the event.
While my fellow commission members and I are passionate about the environment, we all come from very diverse backgrounds, with different views. We may not see “eye to eye” on a lot of topics but protecting land and enjoying the outdoors is something we can all agree on. Meeting new people, with different ideas, has helped expand my views on life and has increased my ability to be compassionate to those who are different from me.
Find your local Conservation Commission on the New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions (NHACC) website!
To Be Continued…
About the Author
My name is Brett Gagnon and I currently live in southern New Hampshire. As a young man I went to school for Electrical Engineering in Boston. Since then I have made a career in the Regulatory field for a Life Science company. As I make my way through my 30’s, I really start to look back on what has made me who I am today. A big part of that is the way my parents raised me, of course, but another part of it was my surroundings here in Southern New Hampshire.