Established in 1990, the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMLRAC) has represented its six communities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield in a variety of studies and planning activities related to the upper Merrimack River and its watershed. It serves as the area’s advisory board on its designation in the NH Rivers Management and Protection program.
The Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee will celebrate its twentieth anniversary in 2010. The upper Merrimack along with four other rivers were the charter rivers nominated into the Rivers Management and Protection Program created through an act of the NH Legislature. The UMRLAC’s anniversary observance plans include a river tour, evening dance, and volunteer and supporter recognition event. Please be sure to visit www.MerrimackRiver.org for further information on these exciting events. While there, you can subscriber to “RiverNews” and receive notifications of these and other events.
The UMRLAC continues to implement the Upper Merrimack Management and Implementation Plan with assistance from the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission. The Commission and the UMRLAC are working together on a project to study and map buffers and setbacks for the six municipalities in the upper Merrimack River area. The completed study will be presented to municipalities to assist them in their master planning and ordinance revision processes. Steve Landry and Michele Tremblay, UMRLAC representatives, and Matt Monahan and Vanessa Bitterman, Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission presented the project status at the 2009 Water and Watershed Conference in November at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord.
Although the economic downturn has reduced the number of development proposals, the UMRLAC reviewed and provided comment on several project plans and proposals important to our region. Proposals included the Concord Crew Club boat dock in Concord, NH Department of Transportation culvert replacement in Concord, the Concord Steam Plant water withdrawal, Public Service Company of NH wetlands permit to fill holes in the river bank created by bottle looters near the plant in Bow, Town of Bow water and sewer project, alteration of terrain permit extension for the Marriott Residence Inn in Concord, and Phase IV expansion of the Franklin landfill by the Concord Regional Solid Waste Resource Recovery Cooperative. The UMRLAC also reviewed and participated in a site walk conducted by the Concord Cooperative for a wetlands permit related to a single stream recycling facility proposed in Concord off the I-93 exit 17. The proposal includes plans to use pervious pavement and other environmentally supportive practices.
The UMRLAC provided comments on the State’s proposed stream crossing rules and the portion of NH House Bill 2 that would eliminate advisory boards, commissions, and boards that provide opportunities for citizen participation in New Hampshire’s state government. The Local River Management Advisory Committees (UMRLAC is one of them) would be eliminated by this proposed legislation. The UMRLAC will continue to monitor and comment on this legislation as it moves through the 2010 session.
The Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee was proud to sponsor the first Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival in November conducted by the New Hampshire Rivers Council and hosted by the Red River Theatres in Concord. This year, the UMRLAC invited Jamie Fosburgh and Lelia Mellen, National Park Service, to explain the benefits of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Partnership Program. The program has been very successful in the Lamprey River area of New Hampshire with significant financial support recreational projects such as trails, river access, and parks, as well as funding for conservation projects with willing landowners. If designated, the upper Merrimack would receive funding for its own projects to support river recreation and access as well as voluntary land conservation projects.
This year the UMRLAC marked its fourteen year of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP). The UMMP 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; Franklin Savings Bank; Franklin Wastewater Treatment Facility; Public Service of NH (both 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 support of these towns, cities, and Adopt-a-River Site sponsors made possible equipment and supply purchases as well as maintenance to protect existing investments such as the UMMP’s stereoscopes. 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.
The UMRLAC elected the following slate of officers in November: Michele Tremblay, Chair; Steve Landry, Vice-Chair, Krista Crowell, Treasurer; and Gary Lynn, Secretary. This year the UMRLAC welcomed Brian Sullivan as a representative from Franklin. Brian has extensive experience with municipalities and public works management. The UMRLAC sadly bids adieu to Robert Wyatt as a Concord representative. Robert is finishing his term representing the city and previously was one of the representatives for the Town of Bow. He always provided thoughtful and thorough comments and was a great asset to 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