|In 1988, the New Hampshire River Management and Protection Program (RMPP) was enacted with the passage of RSA 483 to protect the State’s most significant rivers or river segments, generally referred to as designated rivers, These designated rivers or river segments are recognized for their outstanding natural and cultural resources. The program is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES).
For a river to be designated, an interested individual, organization, or municipality must submit a nomination that outlines why the river’s unique values and characteristics warrant further protection. The nomination must be sufficiently supported by local officials and residents of the riverfront communities in order for the nomination to move forward to the NHDES Commissioner for consideration and approval. Once approved by the Commissioner, the nomination moves for consideration and approval by the State Legislature and then the Governor. Once all parties have approved the nomination, the RSA 483 is amended to include the designation of the nominated river or river segment to be protected under the Program.
After designation, a management plan must then be prepared and implemented so to protect the outstanding qualities of the river for future generations. This Plan is to be developed and implemented by a volunteer local river advisory committee that can monitor and advise on various activities that affect the river on a regional basis. A typical plan identifies management goals and recommends actions that may be taken to protect the resources identified in the nomination. NHDES often assists in the development and implementation of the management plan and also maintains authority to enforce state regulations concerning the quality and quantity of flow in protected river segments.
The designated upper Merrimack River segment begins at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers in the City of Franklin and flows for approximately 30 miles to Garvins Falls in the Town of Bow (see Figure 1). This river segment is one of ten river segments that were originally designated for protection when the RMPP was first established in 1988.
Background of UMRLAC
The Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMRLAC) was founded in 1990 following the establishment of the Rivers Management and Protection Program (RSA 483). As shown in Figure 1, the UMRLAC region encompasses and represented by six communities including Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield. The representatives are nominated by their municipalities and appointed to three-year terms by the Commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services. The UMRLAC completed its first Management and Implementation Plan in 1994. One of the first major actions that spawned from the initial Plan was the formation of a volunteer water quality monitoring program called the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP). The volunteer program came together in 1995 through a cooperative agreement with NHDES and the Merrimack River Watershed Council. Since then, the UMMP has monitored water quality conditions through field sampling and testing of E. coli bacteria, temperature, and other field chemistry measurements as well as benthic macroinvertebrates at eleven sites on the upper Merrimack, Pemigewasset, Winnipesaukee and Contoocook Rivers. The Program has grown from seven sampling sites during its first year to eleven sampling sites in its second. It has become one of the most long-running successful volunteer monitoring programs in the region and has been nationally recognized. The UMMP has been supported by various funding sources including the New England Water Pollution Control Commission, NHDES, its municipalities, and corporate sponsors as part of its
“Adopt-a-River-Site” Program. In addition to the data collected, UMMP has been an equally successful program for Outreach and Education and public participation as well. Over the years, hundreds of volunteers including river conservationists, teachers, students, anglers, municipal officials, and many others have assisted in the field efforts and data analysis.
With UMMP now over ten years old, there is an extensive database that provides a historical basis to evaluate how the river quality may have changed over the years. The UMMP is still going strong with many veteran volunteers continuing to return and assist in the sampling and analysis. UMRLAC will continue to maintain and support the UMMP as a principal resource to monitor water quality and for its education and public awareness benefits in promoting and protecting the resource values of the upper Merrimack River and its watershed. Other accomplishments, goals, objectives, and activities are discussed in each of the individual resource sections.