Community Action Works
Community Action Works

One town vs. a deep-pocketed polluter

Eliot Wessler has deep roots in New Hampshire’s North Country. His family lived in Bethlehem for many years, and wherever else he’s lived, his heart has always been in New Hampshire.

Now, he’s deep in a fight to stop a proposed landfill in Dalton, the next town over from his home.

His neighbors in Dalton, Whitefield and surrounding towns are worried about the impacts that the landfill will have on their communities, including health and safety, quality of life, and the environment. Landfills come with a number of risks, especially to nearby bodies of water, and contaminated drinking water is a big concern.

Eliot says this landfill would destroy 17 acres of wetlands, five vernal pools, and would be built right next to a number of impaired waterbodies. One of the biggest fears is that it will make Forest Lake State Park, a well-loved park and lake in the community, unusable and really hurt the tourist-based economy in the region.

“We encounter very few people who don’t think that building a landfill next to Forest Lake State Park is going to be a disaster for the environment.”

– Eliot Wessler

Eliot got involved with the community group North Country Alliance for Balanced Change (NCABC) when they were founded 12 years ago. The group is an all-volunteer team, with more than 200 active supporters, and has been active in finding the right balance between environmental protection and economic development, which is badly needed in New Hampshire’s North Country.

The group is up against Casella Waste Management, a deep-pocketed, out-of-state corporation that has in the past, and can in the future, afford to pay a lot of money to win towns over. For small and relatively poor towns like Dalton, sums like the $71 million that Casella has to offer is a lot of money.

“They are taking advantage of the North Country communities because of economic disadvantage—they think we’re an easy mark.”

– Eliot Wessler

The North Country Alliance for Balanced Change has joined forces with a number of other grassroots organizations, including Save Forest Lake, the Forest Lake Association, Stop Northern Trash, and Be SMART NH to rally the affected communities, oversee the permitting process at the Department of Environmental Services, and make our case with the state to make sure that the North Country doesn’t get steamrolled by this gigantic, out-of-state corporation.

And when they win the battle against this mega-dump, these groups are committed to working towards better solid waste management in New Hampshire and throughout the region.

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