The NH Fish and Game Department’s recently completed Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) represents the most comprehensive statewide assessment of aquatic and terrestrial habitat conditions. The WAP describes the status of habitat conditions and identifies the areas and species that are of greatest risk of habitat loss, the critical factors that contribute most to further habitat degradation or loss, and provides recommendations for conservation measures needed to maintain or enhance habitat conditions. The preservation of our wildlife and aquatic species is important not only to protect our enjoyment of our natural heritage but is imperative to preserve the ecological balance of the complex ecosystems. Conservation also protects the economic benefits of hunting and fishing activities within the region. As cited in the WAP, the findings of the 2001 US Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey indicate that fishing generated $165 million in economic benefits in New Hampshire, hunting brought in $71 million per year, and wildlife watching accounted for another $343 million per year statewide. A separate independent study, conducted by Southwick Associates, suggested that hunting and fishing activities results in more 4,500 jobs throughout the state. As an important region of the State, the upper Merrimack River is both a significant contributor and beneficiary of these economic benefits generated by hunting and fishing. The findings and recommendations of WAP for the upper Merrimack region should be incorporated into this Plan and ultimately into the local communities’ regulations and planning goals (See highest ranked wildlife habitat areas in the region as shown in Figure 4).
GOAL 7: The upper Merrimack River watershed habitats maintain ecological integrity and diversity that support healthy wildlife communities.
OBJECTIVE: WF-1 – By mid-2009, the recommendations from the NH Fish and Game Department’s Wildlife Action Plan will be analyzed along with local maps, shoreland protection provisions in local ordinances, and other information.
- Develop GIS mapping that shows WAP data, priorities, and recommendations for key habitat areas throughout the watershed.
- Prepare a summary memorandum outlining the WAP priorities and recommendations for the upper Merrimack River communities.
- Incorporate findings and measures into the overall watershed restoration plan with a draft scheduled to be completed by mid-2009.
OBJECTIVE: WF-2 – By mid-2011, a plan will be developed to implement appropriate Wildlife Action Plan recommendations in the upper Merrimack River watershed.
- Coordinate with NH Fish and Game Department, nonprofit conservation agencies, and local municipal officials to develop to develop a plan of key activities needed to implement the WAP recommendations for the region to protect existing viable and important habitat areas.
GOAL 8: Those areas of the upper Merrimack River watershed that are not supporting healthy wildlife communities are restored.
OBJECTIVE: WF-3 – By mid-2011, a wildlife restoration plan will be developed that identifies, prioritizes, and provides recommendations to restore degraded or threatened wildlife habitat areas, and funding sources to support restoration.
- Identify funding sources to implement measures to enhance habitat conditions in degraded areas.
- Develop and prioritize a list of measures that should be implemented over the next ten years to improve heavily impacted and degraded terrestrial and aquatic habitat areas in the upper Merrimack based on the WAP recommendations.