Call to action for Warner Residents

A citizen petition has been put forward to suspend construction of the Concord-Lake Sunapee Rail Trail until the conservation commission has had sufficient time to study and evaluate the environmental impact of the trail. The petition as written will not have the intended effect. 

Article 6: Citizen Petition “Shall the Town of Warner vote to suspend construction of the Concord Lake Sunapee Rail Trail in Warner until the Warner Conservation Commission has had sufficient time to study and evaluate the likely environmental impact of the trail on the Warner River ecosystem and inform Warner residents about the projected ecological consequences of the trail and make recommendation to avoid harm: in particular as it concerns rare, vulnerable and endangered species?” (Not Recommended by Selectboard, 3-0)

The selectboard has not recommended passing this article. This petition is not viable as written because it attempts to give the conservation commission powers it does not have. The conservation commission is advisory to the selectboard. This petition would prevent the Friends of CLSRT and the Town from doing the environmental research and community outreach that is already planned and under way as part of the project grant for Exit 9. The Exit 9 project follows a strict set of steps to ensure that proper analysis is done on the impact on rare, vulnerable and endangered species, and includes investigating alternatives to current proposed routes, holding a series of public hearings for input, and providing a full engineering study before any construction happens. 

The conservation commission does not support this as written because they don’t have the expertise in house or the budget to replicate the environmental analysis that will be done as part of the grant process.

The Friends of CLSRT, the Warner select board and the conservation commission do support a thorough environmental review. By voting against this petition you will enable an official environmental review to take place as part of the trail design process. The conservation commission and the Warner River Local Advisory Committee are invited to actively participate in this process.

To reaffirm for those who haven’t been following the rail trail closely, the Friends of CLSRT do consult with environmental scientists and obtain all necessary permits before constructing any trail projects. Since 2013, we have been working with the Warner conservation commission and other regional experts to understand potential impacts of the trail and find the best route possible. Rail trail related items have been on the Conservation Commission agenda 47 times since 2014 and we have worked together to bring conservation properties into town hands.

We received two years worth of technical assistance from the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Program. We had a survey and environmental study done by Dartmouth College engineering as part of the preliminary proposal for the trail in Warner. We are consulting with the national Rails to Trails Conservancy, Sierra Club, UNH Extension, NH Bureau of Trails, Central NH Regional Planning Commission, and other groups who have insight on the best way to build trails in environmentally sensitive areas. Each of the engineering firms we are considering for the Exit 9 project has environmental engineers on staff and understands that the environmental assessment is of critical importance to this project. 

We appreciate your continued support of the rail trail and look forward to hiring the engineering firm so we can engage in the planning and discussions needed to move forward responsibly.

Please come to Warner Town Hall at 6pm March 13, 2024 and vote against the Article 6 petition so we can proceed with the formal process which is already under way.

Warner residents and visitors have been enjoying the rail trail for 10 years.