This past year marked the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee’s (UMRLAC) 20th anniversary. Established in 1990, the UMRLAC 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, and serves as the area’s advisory board on its designation in the state’s Rivers Management and Protection program. The anniversary observances included a commendation from Governor Lynch, a field trip on the Merrimack, and a Bug Ball with a volunteer recognition event. Volunteers were presented with dragonfly lapel pins and temporary tattoos (for the kids). Thank you to anniversary celebration sponsors Stonyfield Farms, Eastern Mountain Sports, Shaw’s, Hannaford, and Concord Camera. 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, Exxex/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 are working together on a project to study and map buffers and setbacks for the six municipalities in the upper Merrimack River area. To date, the completed study has been presented to the planning boards of Bow, Boscawen, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield to provide them with valuable information and to assist them in their master planning and ordinance revision processes. The UMRLAC and CNHRPC are working to schedule a meeting with Canterbury’s Planning Board. Many thanks to Vanessa Goold and Matt Monahan, CNHRPC, for their great work on this continuing effort.
The UMRLAC provided local comment on several project plans and proposals important to our region. Reviews included applications for the Tannery Brook dam repair (Boscawen); Grappone expansion (Bow); Sewalls Falls bridge work, steam plant expansion, Dame School construction, Prolerized paving, Penacook Family Physicians site changes, and proposed gas station and store (Concord); US Route 3 turn lane in Franklin, expansion of and improvements at the Franklin Waste Water Treatment Plant, Watts Regulator site changes (Franklin).
The UMRLAC’s legislative testimony was heard on the portion of NH House Bill 2 that would have eliminated state advisory boards, commissions, and committees that provide opportunities for citizen participation in New Hampshire’s state government. The UMRLAC was successful in its efforts to assure that the UMRLAC builds on its twenty-year history of local representation and will continue into the future. The Committee also reviewed and commented on Stream Crossing Rules.
This year the UMRLAC marked its fifteenth year of citizen science with its Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP). The support of the 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 stereomicroscopes. Over the UMMP’s fifteen-year history, over 79,000 invertebrates have been quantified and identified.
Working with Adopt-a-River Site sponsor Essex Hydro, the UMRLAC monitored environmental conditions on the Contoocook River near its confluence with the Merrimack. These data are essential to assist Essex with its ongoing permit for its hydroelectric operations.
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 assisted Bow High School student, Cali Hatem by providing equipment loans and guidance on his independent study project monitoring water quality on Turee Pond. Mr. Hatem presented the results of his study to the UMRLAC. The Committee received presentations from experts on several issues including anti-degradation of water quality standards. Michele Tremblay and Steve Landry presented watershed science and provided a hands-on water quality monitoring training to Cub Scouts and their families in Bow.
This year, the UMRLAC created an online, interactive data and mapping tool at www.MerrimackRiver.org to assist health officers and others needing to gauge water quality in the Merrimack. The program also received assistance from UNH graduate student Renee Fitsik in its study of volunteer generated water quality data. Ms. Fitsik conducted a study of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program’s fifteen years of water quality data.
The UMRLAC elected the following slate of officers in November: Michele Tremblay, Chair; Steve Landry, Vice-Chair, Krista Crowell, Treasurer; and Gary Lynn, Secretary. The UMRLAC welcomed Donna Liolis, Bob Sharon, and Nita Tomaszewski from Franklin and David Kirkpatrick from Bow as the newest UMRLACers. Thank you to Brian Sullivan for his continued support—the UMRLAC sadly bids him adieu as his professional duties with the City of Franklin grow.
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