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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Townsend, Mass., says alternate natural-gas routes from Beaver Brook hit their conservation land

TOWNSEND, Mass. – When Beaver Brook Association proposed alternative routes for a possible natural gas pipeline coming up from Massachusetts, it did so to ensure that any line would avoid the group’s hundreds of acres of preserved conservation land.

But Townsend, Mass., says two of Beaver Brook’s proposals would go through one of that community’s favorite conservation areas, known as Old Meetinghouse Park. ...

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TOWNSEND, Mass. – When Beaver Brook Association proposed alternative routes for a possible natural gas pipeline coming up from Massachusetts, it did so to ensure that any line would avoid the group’s hundreds of acres of preserved conservation land.

But Townsend, Mass., says two of Beaver Brook’s proposals would go through one of that community’s favorite conservation areas, known as Old Meetinghouse Park.

“They exit from the pipeline and go right through our entrance to Meetinghouse Park. We worked hard to keep this interior forest intact,” said Leslie Gabrilska, conservation agent for Townsend.

Lorin Rydstrom, chairman of the land committee for Beaver Brook, said any error was unintentional.

“The description that the engineers gave us did not indicate that it went through conservation land,” he said.

Rydstrom said Beaver Brook has been trying to hold a meeting with the Townsend selectmen for some time to discuss the routes.

“I’m looking forward to hearing back from the selectmen,” he said.

Gabrilska contacted The Telegraph seeking contact information for the state Attorney General’s office. The New Hampshire Charitable Trusts Division has expressed concern that Kinder Morgan proposed to run a pipeline through Beaver Brook land protected by conservation easements, legal documents that
forbid most development and which are overseen by the division. Gabrilska wanted to add Townsend’s concerns to the mix.

The proposed routes were drawn up by Tri-Mont Engineering Co., which was hired by Beaver Brook Associations to present alternatives to the original route put forward by Kinder Morgan. All the routes are based on maps and GIS data, not on surveys or work on the ground.

None of these routes have been formally proposed.

Texas based Kinder Morgan is expected to make an initial application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) next month, kicking off what is likely to be a years-long process of getting federal and state approval for a line.

Kinder Morgan wants to run a three-foot-diameter trunk line across northern Massachusetts, carrying natural gas from “fracked” fields in New York state to a existing facility in Dracut, Mass. That buried, high-pressure line would run through Townsend.

Kinder Morgan has also proposed a number of transmission lines – buried lines a foot or less in diameter – carrying gas to customers. One of them would start in Pepperell, Mass., and run north through Hollis to a Liberty Utilities site on Route 101A in Nashua, traversing a number of Beaver Brook properties.

That plan led Beaver Brook Associates to develop alternatives, partly because it didn’t think that opposing any pipeline would be a successful strategy.

“Only 10 percent of FERC projects are turned down or rerouted. We didn’t think opposition was a good investment of resources, that’s why Beaver Brook didn’t try to stop it,” said Rydstrom.

Townsend is taking a more hard-nosed approach, said Gabrilska, opposing both the main trunk pipeline and transmission lines. Kinder Morgan also proposes to send a transmission line south through Townsend toward Lunenberg and beyond.

David Brooks can be reached at 594-6531 or dbrooks@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Brooks on Twitter (@GraniteGeek).