Established in 1990, the UMRLAC has represented its six communities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield in a variety of studies, planning activities, and programs related to the upper Merrimack River and its watershed, and serves as the area towns’ and cities’ advisory board on its designation in the state’s Rivers Management and Protection Program.
The UMRLAC owes much of its success to strong municipal support and that from its Adopt-a-River Site Sponsors. The Program’s Adopt-a-River Site Sponsors include Aquarian Analytical Laboratories, Inc., Aries Engineering, Inc., Checkmate Expert Payroll Services, Elektrisola, Essex/Briar Hydro, Franklin Savings Bank, Franklin Wastewater Treatment Facility, Public Service of NH (Corporate and Merrimack Station), and Watts Regulator/Webster Valve. The UMRLAC also thanks the Conservation Commissions and Towns and Cities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield for their ongoing support.
The UMRLAC continues to implement the Upper Merrimack Management and Implementation Plan with assistance from the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission (CNHRPC). The Commission and the UMRLAC have worked together on a study that maps buffers and setbacks for the six municipalities in the upper Merrimack River area. They have surveyed the planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment, and conservation commissions in Bow, Boscawen, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield to garner their input on the study. Many thanks to Vanessa Goold and Matt Monahan, CNHRPC, for their great work on this continuing effort. In 2012, the UMRLAC will be conducting a mid-term evaluation of its Plan. The plan is posted as a PDF and an interactive “page turning” version at http://www.merrimackriver.org/managementplan/.
The UMRLAC provided local comment on several project plans and proposals important to our region. Reviews included applications for the I-89 Turkey River exit, river access for the Public Service Company of New Hampshire, and a storage facility (Bow); Concord Airport, Brochu’s access, NH Technical Institute parking lot expansion, and the odor reduction plan for the wastewater treatment plan (Concord); and the Edmunds expansion (Franklin).
The UMRLAC’s legislative testimony was heard on a number of bills including those affecting the Rivers Management and Protection Act and the (former) Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act (four new rivers and rivers systems were added to the Act).
Working with Adopt-a-River Site sponsor Essex Hydro, the UMRLAC monitored environmental conditions on at Franklin Falls with the assistance of volunteers Kathy and Jacob Arseneau. These data are essential to assist Essex with its ongoing permit for its hydroelectric operations.
Now in its sixteenth year, the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP) continues to work with several dozen volunteers to monitor water quality on the upper Merrimack River. This year the volunteers were especially challenged with high water levels and flooding throughout the watershed. The UMMP data show increasing high water levels and flooding events over the last several years.
Special thanks go to St. Paul’s School for graciously hosting UMRLAC’s “Bug Nights” educational and research program, which continues its popularity in the region with dozens of individuals volunteering their collection and identification services. They stored our equipment and supplies over the spring and summer and then moved them into their new science building where Bug Nights will be convened in 2012. There would not be Bug Nights without the generous hosting, wonderful staff support, and student participation from St. Paul’s School.
Michele Tremblay continues to participate in a standard operating procedures work group to streamline permitting requirements and notifications with the NH Department of Environmental Services.
Several upper Merrimack communities have endorsed Wild and Scenic designation for the river. The UMRLAC will continue to work with them in 2012.
This year, the UMRLAC started a new column, “River Ramblings” with each representative taking a turn submitting the article. Please look for it in your town and city newsletters.
Natalie McCormack from the US Army Corps of Engineers provided a presentation at an UMRLAC meeting that detailed the history and management of the flood control facilities in the Merrimack watershed. Lindsay Webb, NH Fish and Game Department gave a presentation on the state’s Wildlife Action Plan and connectivity with the Upper Merrimack Management and Implementation Plan.
The UMRLAC elected the following slate of officers in November: Michele Tremblay, Chair; Steve Landry, Vice-Chair, Krista Crowell, Treasurer; and Gary Lynn, Secretary. Sadly, we bid farewell to Alan Bartlett who chose not to seek re-appointment. Alan is part of a multi-generational farm in Concord. An interesting fact: The Bartlett’s cornfield is the nearest to a state capitol in the entire nation. He provided a welcomed and much appreciated presence as a Concord representative. Concord representatives are needed. Please contact Michele Tremblay at MLT@naturesource.net or 603.796.2615 if you are interested in working with the UMRLAC.
Please visit UMRLAC’s website for further information on the river, committee membership, activities, summaries from prior meetings, upcoming meeting agendas, maps, water quality data, and photographs of brave and selfless volunteers in action. The UMRLAC meets on a rotating basis in its six represented communities on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 pm. Many thanks to the Towns and Cities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield for graciously hosting Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee meetings and for their continued support. All are welcome to attend the meetings. For additional information, please contact Michele Tremblay at 603.796.2615, www.MerrimackRiver.org, or any of your municipal representatives listed below.
Stephen C. Landry
Michele L. Tremblay