Graciously hosted by Saint Paul’s School, Bug Nights continues its popularity in the region, entering its ninth year in 2004 with over 50 individuals volunteering their collection and identification services. This year, the New Hampshire Sunday News published a full-page color feature on the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP) volunteers and their river quality monitoring efforts. The UMMP’s partnership work was featured in a front-page article in the summer edition of The Volunteer Monitor. Written by Steve Landry, Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMRLAC) representative, the article provided an overview on the UMMP’s outreach and fundraising efforts. The edition included a sidebar on sample collection. The article has been reprinted in the River Management Society’s Newsletter.
The Program’s adopt-a-River Sponsors include Aquarian Analytical Laboratories, Inc., 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 Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee meetings. The Franklin Waste Water Treatment Facility provided E. coli sample processing for the UMMP with the assistance of over a dozen collection volunteers. The data are the first volunteer monitoring program’s to be entered into the state Environmental Quality Monitoring system. The UMRLAC is grateful for its sponsors’, partners’, and municipalities’ support of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP) and other projects in the watershed.
In collaboration with the NH Rivers Council, the UMRLAC facilitated a stakeholder group that reviewed the Public Service of NH re-licensing application and drafted comments for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Several meetings were held and groups from Nashua to Franklin participated including representatives from US Fish and Wildlife Service, Trout Unlimited, Appalachian Mountain club, and the NH Fish and Game Department. UMRLAC filed for intervenor status in the Merrimack Hydro relicensing application process and submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC). With the NH Rivers Council, the UMRLAC co-convened a group of organizations and concerned citizens and informed them of the FERC process as well as provided information on how they could form and file their own comments.
Representative Michele Tremblay continued to serve through the late summer on the state Senate Bill 87 Legislative Study Commission representing the Connecticut, Pemigewasset, and upper Merrimack Rivers and worked with Commission members to draft a compromise for use in the next legislative session. Other report findings included a list of research priorities and recommendations for a buffers project.
The NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) trained members of the UMRLAC as “Weed Watchers.” As Weed Watchers, the UMRLACers are trained to recognize and safely remove, where possible, non-native invasive species. UMRLACers will patrol the watershed, determine removal strategies, and collect samples of suspicious plants for confirmed identification by the DES. The UMRLAC is working through a sub-committee to develop a pilot project for invasive species barriers.
Jim Presher from the Concord Regional Solid Waste/Recovery Resource Cooperative presented an update on the proposed ash and trash landfill proposed on the lower Canterbury intervale. The UMRLAC investigated complaints including sand and salt dumping in the Contoocook River.
The UMRLAC continued to review project plans and proposals and provide comment including several for residential subdivisions, the Route 4 bridge project at Exit 17 off I-93, the Gage Street sewer project in Boscawen, Lowe’s in Concord, an upgraded railway crossing on Hall Street in Concord, a freight transfer terminal in Concord, an expansion of an all terrain vehicle dealership in Concord, stormwater system upgrades near Industrial Drive in Franklin, sign replacement from Hooksett to Concord, the state Council on Resources Development state disposal of lands in Boscawen, and athletic field construction at the NH Technical Institute. The UMRLAC provided letters of support to the Highway View Farm Trust and Canterbury land conservation grant projects.
The UMRLAC exhibited its interactive display at the state Watershed Conference. Several UMRLAC members attended workshops. Steve Landry and Michele Tremblay co-presented a case study on watershed plan implementation. Michele Tremblay moderated and presented at a legislative training session. The UMRLAC hosted a Merrimack River paddle in July. Michele Tremblay participated in the National River Rally in May. Several UMRLAC members participated in the River Connection’s meetings and forums. The US Environmental Protection Agency presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the UMRLAC for its participation in the national Adopt-a-Watershed program. Win Robinson, UMRLAC representative, was honored with the Spirit of NH Award in November.
Plans for 2005-2006 include revising its management plan. Through the Central NH Regional Planning Commission (CNHRPC), grant funding was requested from the NH Department of Environmental Services to support the revision. The project has been scoped and an inventory of resources is in process with the assistance of the CNHRPC. The UMRLAC is commissioning a ten-year data analysis and report of the UMMP and a retrospective of the program to guide planning efforts for the next decade. To help fund the report, the UMRLAC has printed T-shirts and tote bags sporting a graphic of its popular Insect Inquirer on the back and a colored dragonfly and river image on the front. Please contact Michele Tremblay (information at the end of this report) or your UMRLAC municipal representative if you would like to make a bold fashion statement with a shirt or bag.
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.