Legislators in New Hampshire are considering a bill that would provide landowners with a “right of action” against those who pollute or vandalize private land. Property damage and dumping on privately owned land are serious problems that pose a risk to the responsible stewardship of forest resources in New Hampshire. HB 1298 seeks to establish a strong deterrent, including that any aggrieved landowner will be entitled to collect up to three times the full cost of clean-up/restoration and attorney fees. This could be an important tool to protect New Hampshire’s forest resources and the people who own and manage them.
Some owners of forested tracts have experienced dumping, fires, destructive “mud-bogging” in wetlands and steep slopes, and other forms of vandalism. Damage to log landings, forestry roads, water and soil resources is costly for these landowners, who are likely to have installed improvements in consultation with agency advisors only to see their investment destroyed by vandals. Most susceptible are large forest tracts in relatively remote areas — exactly the timber and conservation resources that are so important to our region.
Posting “No Trespassing” signs is not a satisfactory answer to repeated costs of hauling away trash or rebuilding crossings and waterbars. Moreover, this response punishes responsible users as well as vandalizers. UVLT supports the bill’s sponsors in seeking solutions that maintain the traditions of public enjoyment and respect for privately owned land.