Fish and Aquatic
The upper Merrimack supports a highly diverse and, for the most part, very healthy fish and aquatic ecosystem throughout its rivers, streams, and lakes. Recreational fishing is a very popular and cherished activity in many locations along the river corridor as well as lakes and ponds. The region supports high quality, cold water fisheries in the fast-moving rivers of the upper headwaters as well as excellent warm water fisheries in the many lakes and ponds and the slower-moving sections of the river. The abundance and access to various water bodies, the general high water quality, and diverse habitat conditions in most locations provides excellent year-round fishing opportunities. The abundantly available, high-quality fishing is an important contributor to the economic activity for many businesses within the region including marinas, bait and tackle shops, convenience stores, restaurants, and hotels.
GOAL 11: The upper Merrimack River watershed habitats maintain ecological integrity and diversity that support healthy aquatic communities.
OBJECTIVE: FA-1 – By mid-2008, existing fisheries and benthic community data for the various reaches throughout the watershed will be compiled using existing NH Department of Environmental Services, NH Fish and Game Department, and Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program databases.
- Identify specific reaches where the historical data indicates that the macroinvertebrate and/or fish populations are declining and/or shifting to less desirable species types.
- Identify/evaluate causes for species shifts or declining populations.
- Identify and map impediments to upstream and/or downstream fish passage due to “hanging” culverts (i.e., where the outlet end is raised above the stream bed) and/or dam structures.
- Consult with NHDES River Restoration Coordinator to seek assistance in using the NH River Restoration Task Force to help identify existing fish passage impediments and potential restoration alternatives to improve fish passage at culverts and existing dams.
- Consult with NH Fish and Game Department to review any creel survey results, stocking patterns, electro-shocking results, or other scientific and anecdotal data.
- Incorporate findings and measures into the overall watershed restoration plan with a draft scheduled to be completed by mid-2009.
OBJECTIVE: FA-2 – By 2012, gaps in mainstem and tributary systems data will be filled.
- Conduct a field survey along major tributaries and mainstem of the Merrimack River to evaluate the severity and prioritize the restoration needs to improve fish passage at stream crossings in accordance with the pending stream crossing guidance criteria.
- Develop a map of high priority stream crossing impediments and a description of the primary passage impediment.
- Continually monitor proposed roadway improvement projects within the watershed and coordinate with the project proponent to improve existing stream crossing conditions, as needed based on the priority mapping.
GOAL 12: Those areas of the upper Merrimack River watershed that are not supporting healthy aquatic communities are restored.
OBJECTIVE: FA-3 – By 2012, at least 50% of unnatural barriers to passage for native aquatic species, including fish, will be removed in the upper Merrimack River watershed.
By mid-2010, develop a list and rank stream crossing improvement needs for crossing within the watershed along with a cost estimate of the culvert/bridge replacement.