Speaker: ‘Forests are essential’

Forest Society president talks trees, life

  • Jane Difley, president and forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, was the Amos Fortune speaker Friday.
  • Jane Difley, President and forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, was the Amos Fortune speaker Friday.
  • Jane Difley, President and forester of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, was the Amos Fortune speaker Friday.

JAFFREY — Jane Difley, president of the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests, said one of her organization’s present goals is for those living in cities to care as much about conserving forests as those living in the rural part of the state might.

Difley told the crowd at the Amos Fortune Forum in the Jaffrey Center Friday evening having someone in a city in New Hampshire, like Manchester, care more about preserving New Hampshire’s forest is “challenging.” It is hard for them to “imagine forests are essential for sustaining life as we know it.” She said they live from their kitchen to their garage, to a paved parking lot, to their office desk, and back to their home.

Difley later said membership for their organization is not very strong in Manchester and other urban parts of the state is not very strong, which her organization is concerned about.

“We all have deep connections” to nature, she said.

Difley tied this remark into her criticism of the Northern Pass project in her speech and afterward, when she fielded questions from the audience. The Northern Pass project is a proposal by Hydro-Quebec, a Canadian power company, and Northeast Utilities, the parent company of Public Service of New Hampshire, to run 180 miles of power lines through northern New Hampshire to Concord and on to Deerfield.

“We’re not going to let them dig in our dirt,” Difley said to an audience member who asked her how she predicted this battle ending. “We own some of their land along the route.”

Most of the electrical towers Hydro-Quebec plant to build, according to Difley, will be about 85 to 135 ft. tall. She said most existing towers are 65 ft, about the typical height of tree.

“At our core, our objection is not aesthetic,” Difley said. “It is about protecting those lands that are already protected.”

She said her organization doesn’t object to hydroelectric power being transmitted from Quebec. She said residents and business in the north country are concerned these electrical lines will affect the tourism industry. Her organization would like it to be buried around roads and other public transportation.

The Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests is a non-profit land conservation organization committed to conserving New Hampshire’s forests and wildlife.

Difley, a professional forester, is the first woman president of the organization.

For the majority of her speech, Difley overviewed the history of her organization, and its goals. Difley said the Society for the Preservation of New Hampshire Forests was founded in 1901 to preserve the White Mountain Forests in New Hampshire that were being clear-cut. The organization, through the Weeks Act, convinced the federal government to purchase the White Mountains creating the White Mountain National Forest. Difley’s organization has also preserved Mount Monadnock, and has contributed to New Hampshire becoming the second most forested state in the nation. 84 percent of New Hampshire is forested.

Difley also spoke about her 25-year strategic plan, New Hampshire Everlasting, which advocates for the preservation of another million acres of land by 2026.

In the next 100 years, Difley said we must properly protect lands already conserved, and deal with the worldwide environmental issues of climate change and population growth.

The Amos Fortune Forum provides organizes speakers every week throughout July and August at the Jaffrey Center Meetinghouse.

On Friday, Kristen Gresh will speak about her exhibition, “She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World.”

Benji Rosen can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228, or brosen@ledgertranscript.com.

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