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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: August 13, 2009
CONTACT:
Lori Sommer, 603 271-4059

DES Announces Merrimack River Watershed Grants
First Grants Awarded from DES Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) Wetlands Bureau has announced the Merrimack River Watershed Site Selection Committee’s recommendations for four projects to receive a total of $631,000 in grants through the DES Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund. The selected projects were the Stewart Property in Francestown, the Clay Pond Headwaters Protection Plan (Hooksett), the Concord Regional Solid Waste/Resource Recovery Center in Canterbury, and the Nesenkeag Brook Headwaters Project in Londonderry. The projects will provide wetland restoration, stream improvements and land preservation totaling 1,080 acres of habitat with high conservation value.The grants are pending Governor and Executive Council approval.

The Stewart Property project will receive $45,500 in grants to put toward the purchase of 55 acres of land for protection. The project will restore approximately 2 acres of land back to a natural riparian buffer, and will protect more than 5,000 feet of shoreline along the Piscataquog River.

The Clay Pond Headwaters Protection Plan will receive $265,315 in grants to aid in the conservation of approximately 733 acres of high value wildlife habitat in the Clay Pond Headwaters area in Hooksett, including more than 130 acres of wetlands. The project will restore or provide habitat improvements for three streams that were negatively impacted crossings during historic settlement of the area. The DES Wetlands Mitigation and Drinking Water Source Protection programs have also contributed to this project.

The Concord Regional Solid Waste/Resource Recovery Center project will receive $300,000 in grants to put toward the purchase and protection of a 294-acre parcel in Canterbury that includes 26 acres of wetlands and two miles of undeveloped Merrimack River shoreline.

The Nesenkeag Brook Headwaters Project in Londonderry will receive up to $20,000 in partial funding for the restoration of the Nesenkeag Headwaters site and to elimintate invasive species from the site. The restoration will address water quality issues and the restoration of hydrologic conditions at the site.

The DES Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund was established by law in August, 2006 as a mitigation option for certain projects not able to provide other forms of mitigation. The ARM Fund Site Selection Committee (Committee) was set up to provide a mechanism for reviewing, evaluating, and selecting wetland restoration, upland preservation, wetland creation, and other aquatic resource improvement proposals. The Committee is composed of representatives of: DES, Department of Economic Development NH Heritage Bureau, NH Fish and Game Department, Office of Energy and Planning, NH Association of Natural Resource Scientists, NH Association of Conservation Commissions, The Nature Conservancy and the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. According to the law, the projects determined to be appropriate for receipt of ARM Fund monies are subject to approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and the NH Wetlands Council (Council).

The Committee is charged with identifying proposals to be funded by selecting high priority projects that most effectively compensate for the loss of functions and values in the watershed. The Council is charged with approving disbursements of the ARM Fund based on recommendations provided by the Committee per RSA 482-A:29.

For more information on the ARM program and the selected projects above, contact Lori Sommer at 603 271-4059. Additional information on the Merrimack River Watershed Site Selection Committee’s recommendations is available at http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wetlands/wmp/documents/arm_grants.pdf.

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