The cult sensation “Bug Nights” received some exciting media coverage this year. NH Public Television ran a feature on Bug Nights for their “NH Outlook” program. NH Public Radio also attended Bug Nights and featured it on a segment of “NH Today.” This is the seventh year of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program’s Bug Nights. Hosted by Saint Paul’s School in Concord, Bug Night sessions train volunteers to identify benthic macroinvertebrates (animals without backbones that live on the river bottom). The quantity and diversity of these organisms provides a long-term indication of river health. In addition to analyzing macroinvertebrates, the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program works with volunteers to collect E. coli and other water quality data. Current water quality information and a copy of State of the Upper Merrimack 1995-1997, a river quality report can be downloaded at www.merrimackriver.org.
In 2002, The UMMP released a statistical paper that measures the validity of volunteer-generated water quality data. The paper outlines the validity of volunteer- vs. professionally-generated data. The results indicate that well-trained volunteers produce high-quality data. The UMMP extends its sincerest thanks to Steve Eckberg who provided high-quality, professional statistical-analysis services to help process data for the paper. Please visit the UMRLAC’s website to download the paper.
This year, the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMRLAC) welcomes its newest Adopt-a-River Sponsor: Essex Power Services, Inc., Boscawen. Essex is joined by existing Sponsors, Aries Engineering, Inc.; Checkmate Expert Payroll Services, Concord; Elektrisola, Boscawen; Franklin Savings Bank; Franklin Wastewater Treatment Facility; Public Service Company of NH Corporate Offices and Merrimack Station; and Watts Regulator/Webster Valve. Many thanks to the Conservation Commissions and Towns and Cities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield for their ongoing support and graciously hosting UMRLAC meetings. The UMRLAC is grateful for their support of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP) and other projects in the watershed.
The first version of Recycling in the Concord Cooperative: Trash to Cash, is complete and is already being revised with additional data. Funded with generous support from the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, the UMRLAC Recycling Committee researched current recycling practices among communities, identified successful approaches, and drafted a report which presents practical plans for recycling to member communities in the Concord Regional Solid Waste/Resource Recovery Cooperative. When the revision is complete, the report will be distributed to all of the municipalities in the Cooperative. The report will also be posted on the UMRLAC website.
The UMRLAC has completed its work on the “Data Presentation, Outreach, and Education for Action in the Upper Merrimack” project funded by the NH Department of Environmental Services Nonpoint Source Local Initiative Grant Program. The project expands outreach activities, such as exhibits and presentations, to foster watershed stewardship and volunteer recruitment throughout the watershed. The results were measured through pre- and post-presentation questionnaires. Although the grant project is complete, the UMRLAC always welcome the opportunities to make the presentation to your group. If your organization is interested in hosting the slide presentation, “The Merrimack River, What’s a Watershed Citizen to Do?” or a stream ecology demonstration, please contact Michele Tremblay or your representative listed below.
Additional outreach efforts this year included presentations at the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program, Volunteer Rivers Assessment Program, and NH Rivers Council annual conference; Cold River Local Advisory Committee winter program, Concord Conservation Commission, Franklin City Council, Plymouth State College, Toastmasters, and two demonstrations each at Proctor Academy and Bow Elementary School.
The UMRLAC has completed a project funded by the NH Department of Environmental Services Merrimack River Watershed Restoration Grants Program. The project goal was to restore a badly-eroded section of the Merrimack in Boscawen. Unfortunately, the initial engineering estimates provided to the UMRLAC were too low and the project could not be completed with the funds requested from DES. However, one part of the project was completed: working with the NH Department of Resources and Economic Development re-graded adjacent lands to facilitate less damaging drainage from runoff. The UMRLAC is exploring other options to mitigate damage at the site. Special thanks to Sean Sweeney from Provan and Lorber, Inc. for donating his time and his expertise on geomorphology.
Products slated for completion in 2003 include a brochure and newsletter which will provide updates on UMRLAC and UMMP activities. A canoe outing and data presentation to recognize UMMP volunteers and supporters and to present water quality data is also planned.
To learn more about dams and river systems, Stephanie Lindloff from the NH Department of Environmental Services presented an overview of dam removal and river restoration. Marilee Horn from the United States Geological Survey presented “Water Use in the Watershed.” Dr. Kenneth Kimball from the Appalachian Mountain Club presented information on how citizens can become effectively involved with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s dam re-licensing process. In 2003, the UMRLAC will host and lead a stakeholder forum to facilitate collaboration of municipalities and other groups in the re-licensing process.
The UMRLAC reviewed several river-related proposals from the NH Department of Transportation. The UMRLAC also provided review and comment on several Wetlands Bureau applications including one for a culvert and stabilization at the proposed ash-trash landfill on the Merrimack River in Canterbury. Committee members tracked and commented on the State’s draft Instream Flow Rules. This summer, UMMP volunteer Werner Horn alerted the UMRLAC and other agencies to a violation on the Pemigewasset River where a dam management system malfunctioned and an entire section of that river and the Merrimack were de-watered.
Elected UMRLAC officers for 2002-2003 are: Michele L. Tremblay, Chair; Stephen C. Landry, Vice-chair; Gary Lynn, Secretary; and Stephen Robinson, Treasurer.
Please visit our website at www.merrimackriver.org for further information on the river, committee membership, activities, maps, water quality data, and photographs of UMRLAC volunteers in action. UMRLAC meetings are held on a rotating basis in the six represented communities on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM. All are welcome to attend. For meeting schedules, locations and more information, contact Michele L. Tremblay, Chair, at 796-2615, or your local representatives.