By Cindy Hemeon-Plessner (LNH '19)
Senior Vice President and Marketing Officer at NH Mutual Bancorp
The goals for our day were to:
- Provide associates with an understanding of the complex relationship and tradeoffs between development and natural resources.
- Explore significant environmental challenges facing our state.
- Focus on how we might engage around environmental and sustainability efforts.
We began the day in smaller group discussions about our homework, which was:
- Write down in 50 words or less what the environment means to you
- Watch the video created by NHDES on Climate Change in NH: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktcVNlLclIQ&feature=em-share_video_user
- Note how much garbage and recycling you generate in the period of one week
- If possible, attend one of the visits set up for us to either Waste Management Turnkey Recycling and Enterprise Facility in Rochester or Wheelabrator Waste-to-Energy Facility in Penacook.
I consider myself lucky to have been able to visit Wheelabrator in Penacook. My trash (Gilford) is delivered to Wheelabrator – and I was happy to learn how they are turning it into electricity while minimizing air pollution and recycling metals. We learned about mixing trash as if it were a salad so it will always burn at an optimal temperature; how things are so air tight that you can’t even small garbage around the facility or inside it; and the amazing technology used to keep things running smoothly, safely and profitably.
I also highly recommend monitoring your trash and recycling for one week. Being conscious that one week made me change our family behavior permanently. (It’s a similar concept to writing down what you eat. It’s remarkable how unaware we can be of the things we “just do” every day!)
We had a number of really great speakers during the day.
- Iain MacLeod, the Executive Director of the Science Center, Robert Larochelle of the Squam Lakes Conservation Societyand EB James of the Squam Lakes Associationgave a brief history of the area and talked about how their organizations are working together to preserve the local area. (Personal note – if you have children, I highly recommend the Squam Lakes Association for Camp. Your kids will hike, canoe, swim, kayak and sleep on an island. It’s amazing!)
- Clark Frieise, The Assistant Commissioner of theNH Department of Environmental Serviceswas incredibly engaging and a wealth of information about the environment in our state.
- Steve Poggi, Director of Disposal Operations of New England and Upper NY talked from Waste Managementgave an expert opinion on recycling and trash management
- Sally Manikian, Director of the Conservation Fundexplained why the landscape is serious advantage for NH that deserves serious work and attention.
- Our LNH 2019 Colleague Dan Weeks from ReVision Energyfacilitated a panel about the power struggle involved with NH’s renewable energy plan. Panel members included Rob Werner, the State Director of theLeague of ConservationVoters and Huck Montgomery, the Manager of Government Affairs at Liberty Utilities.
- Mark Zankel, State Director of the Nature Conservancy of NHpresented a case study in regards to balancing resources to afford for both conservation and development.
Here are some of the tidbits I found fascinating during the day:
- If you have a well, you should test the water once a year for common environmental and other toxins. Learn more at https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/well_testing/index.htm
- The Northern Saw Whet Owl was named for giving a call that sounds like a saw being sharpened on a whetting stone. Ian brought one with him. He reminded us that this very tiny, very cute bird is a serious impressive and aggressive hunter. Learn more at https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-saw-whet-owl
- Often dubbed New Hampshire’s “hidden coast,” the Great Bay is unique because it is either a saltwater and freshwater system, or estuary, set apart from the coastline. In recognition of Great Bay’s beauty, diversity and productivity, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has afforded special protection to it as one of only 28 “estuaries of national significance.” Seven rivers that carry the pollution from 42 New Hampshire and 10 Maine communities drain into the Great Bay watershed, which comprises of 1,023 square miles. Sadly, the Great Bay estuary is showing signs of a failing ecosystem from this input. The 2018 State of the Estuaries Report, published by the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, showed 12 of 16 environmental indicators with negative or cautionary trends. Learn more at https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wmb/coastal/great-bay-estuary.htm
- There is a huge difference is the efficiency and benefits of dual stream recycling vs. single source recycling. Currently about 25% of our trash goes through single source and 5% through double source. To learn more about how you can recycle, visit http://www.wm.com/thinkgreen/what-can-i-recycle.jsp
- Seawater has many different gases dissolved in it, especially nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide. It exchanges these gases with the atmosphere to keep a balance between the ocean and the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is one of the most important gases that dissolve in the ocean. The balance of these gases in our atmosphere and oceans is very important.
- Air pollution and climate change have long been measurable in the White Mountains, especially on Mount Washington. Learn more at https://www.mountwashington.org/research-and-product-testing/past-projects/climate-change-and-air-pollutant-impacts-to-new-englands-rare-alpine-zone.aspx This blew me away – so much for fresh clean mountain air!
- NH has a Brownfields Program https://www.des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/waste/hwrb/sss/brownfields/for areas that have been clean enough to be redeveloped for another use
- There is a ton of really interesting, easy to understand information on NH’s Environmental Dashboard http://www4.des.state.nh.us/NHEnvironmentalDashboard/Please check it out. It’s truly worth your time.
- The NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan is a blueprint for conserving Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) and their habitats in New Hampshire https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/wap.htmlIt includes rankings of habitats and their protections.
- The NH White Mountains see more visitors than Yosemite & Yellowstone combined AND tourism is on the increase!
- There are a significant number of recent and proposed pieces of legislation aimed at decreasing CO2 creation and renewable energy in NH. Follow the news to stay aware.
Some other suggestions:
- Learn more about my LHN Class of 2019 colleagues thoughts by searching #lnh2019enviro on social media
- Visit the Squam Lakes Science Center. In the summer when they are open. It’s cold in the winter!
- If possible, go visit Wheelabrator
- If you are an alum of LNH. Does it really matter if your class is the best ever? Shouldn’t we be working together instead of competing? Joining forces instead of polarizing? Certainly for people, industry and the environment to succeed in NH, we all need to work together toward common goals. Shouldn’t LNH lead the way and work together instead of choosing whose ‘best’?