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Forum, Sept. 29: Here’s a chance to clear out your deadly lead fishing tackle

Published: 9/28/2019 10:00:10 PM
Modified: 9/28/2019 10:00:08 PM
Here’s a chance to clear out your deadly lead fishing tackle

There are proper disposal options for lead fishing tackle and there are many non-lead alternatives available. The Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission offers residents of participating towns free disposal of lead fishing tackle at household hazardous waste collections. The next collection is Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, at Lebanon High School. (Visit for more information.) If you do not live in this region, check with your household hazardous waste collection provider or your town clerk to find out where to take lead fishing tackle for proper disposal.

Why should we care? A study of loon mortality by New Hampshire’s Loon Preservation Committee showed that 49% of loon deaths are caused by lead fishing tackle, the largest known cause of mortality in adult loons in New Hampshire. The data indicated that much of the ingested lead tackle in lead-poisoned loons is current — not long-lost tackle at the lake bottoms. Lead tackle mortalities are strongly correlated with the peak of summer fishing and tourist season in July and August.

Loons are not the only birds harmed by lead fishing tackle: Eagles and other raptors can ingest fishing tackle when they eat fish. After ingestion, it can take two to four weeks to kill the bird from lead poisoning.

The state of New Hampshire banned the use of lead sinkers of one ounce or less and jigs less than one inch long. In 2006, the state made it illegal to sell these. The legal lead tackle is just as deadly as the banned smaller versions and is responsible for 51% of the loon deaths in the study. There are many safe alternatives available.

Let’s work together to get the lead out of our water and protect our wildlife from lead poisoning. Clean out your lead fishing tackle for proper disposal. For more information, contact the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission at 603-448-1680, Monday-Thursday, or email



The writer is a planner with the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission.

If ‘best practices’ are used, there’s value in Dartmouth’s biomass plan

The Valley News Forum provides a great service to educate residents about local issues. Take, for example, Dartmouth College’s proposal — now under review — to transition its heating system from fossil fuel to renewable energy by way of a hot water system fueled by a biomass generating plant.

Rachel Smolker is right to say it would be disastrous if Dartmouth were to draw its feedstock from monoculture plantations (“Biomass demand would not be good for the forest,” Sept. 23). But our northern forests are anything but monocultures.

My family has had a woodlot enrolled in the Tree Farm program for more than 50 years. We use a registered forester to oversee a harvest every 10-12 years. Using “best practice” standards, the forester sees that diversity remains high, which reduces disease and insect predation. Trees she marks to cut are spaced to give the next generation of trees room to grow. She opens the canopy so the “third generation,” the seedlings on the forest floor, get light so they can grow faster than the deer can browse them.

Non-merchantable trees, or “culls,” are also removed with each harvest. And it’s only because there’s a market for culls that our woodlot can remain productive and the value of the inventory can continue to grow, which it does. My family’s woodlot is too far away to benefit. But Dartmouth’s biomass plant will create a market for culls that will allow local forests to continue to improve in value for the landowner.

Unlike a lot of us who have moved to the Upper Valley “from away,” families who have lived here for generations have relied on jobs related to the forests we all love. If Dartmouth does source feedstock from nearby woodlots that are locally owned, the proposed biomass plant would provide jobs to local families and income to small landowners. Josh Keniston, Dartmouth’s vice president for institutional projects, said “biomass is still on the table … to kind of confirm if that makes sense.” In acquiring its feedstock, if Dartmouth will utilize registered foresters committed to best practice standards, then including biomass in the transition makes sense to me.



Meaningful numbers, please

The recent VtDigger article (“Officials approve system-wide tuition hikes,” Sept. 23) discussed tuition increases that have been approved in Vermont’s university system. As is often the case, the story failed to give the most meaningful numbers. Instead of state budget numbers, the story should have given us the following numbers:

■ University of Vermont in-state tuition: $17,300; out-of-state: $40,364.

■ University of New Hampshire in-state tuition: $17,624; out-of-state: $31,424.

■ Wyoming in-state tuition: $5,055; out-of-state: $16,215.

■ Dartmouth: $51,438

■ Harvard $47,074.

■ Massachusetts Institute of Technology: $48,452.

It took less than five minutes for me to find out these numbers. Perhaps they are not the most accurate as of right now, but they are still a good “ballpark” figure for each of the institutions listed.

These numbers make it much easier for the interested readers to see that Vermont charges astronomical tuition, on a par with the Ivies. Instead, we are told that the state spends a lot ($17.3 million) on scholarships. I think prospective students and their families would be much more interested in accurate tuition figures to help them make decisions.

From a wider perspective, it has been my observation that journalists, for some reason, are completely blind to meaningful quantitative information. When all is said and done, that’s the only thing that matters.



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