Unprecedented nine rivers seeking designation into the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program
Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) Rivers Management and Protection Program (RMPP) received an unprecedented four nominations in 2010 seeking the designation of nine rivers, totaling over 126 miles, across the state. The nomination of the Mascoma River, the Oyster River, the Lower Exeter and Squamscott Rivers, and the currently undesignated sections of the Lamprey River with its major tributaries (the North Branch, North, Little, Pawtuckaway and Piscassic Rivers) represents a tremendous effort of local citizens coming together to demonstrate to the state the value their communities place on their rivers. Since the establishment of the RMPP in 1988 by the passage its enacting legislation (RSA 483), 16 rivers have been accepted by the state legislature for designation for their outstanding resources, values and characteristics.
Each of the nominations had unique reasons for seeking designation; all the reasons stem from a desire to protect and maintain quality of life in the state. The Mascoma River was nominated largely to protect the river’s value as a drinking water source and as a recreational asset. The nomination of Oyster River was done to provide a more formal means for river-front towns to communicate with each other and with the state regarding how to protect the river in the rapidly developing Seacoast region. The nomination of the Lower Exeter and Squamscott Rivers helps to complete the goal designating the whole Exeter River, portions of which were designated in 1995, from its source to where the tidal portion meets Great Bay Estuary. The currently undesignated portions of the Lamprey River and its major tributaries were nominated together in order protect and manage the river using a watershed approach and to allow for all fourteen watershed towns to participate in protecting the area’s water resources.
The most significant benefit of river designation is a collective statement by local residents and the state that a particular river is a unique and important resource deserving of protection. A river designation gives a river an extra level of state protection for significant instream river resources, particularly water quality and instream flows. Once a river is designated, a local river advisory management committee (LAC) is developed and is responsible for developing a local river corridor management plan and commenting on activities affecting the river that require state or federal permits. Each LAC is comprised of representatives from each riverfront municipality, which are nominated by the towns and appointed by the DES Commissioner. LAC members represent a wide range of interests from local government to conservation to businesses and are the only DES appointed advisors. Because the river management plan is locally developed, adopted and implemented, it reflects the specific needs, interests and concerns of local citizens.
All four nominations were recommended for designation by the Rivers Management Advisory Committee and DES Commissioner Thomas Burack this fall, largely due to the overwhelming public support for all the nominations. All four nominations will now be sent to the NH Legislature for approval and hopefully all four nominations, nine rivers and 126 miles of river will become designated in 2011.For more information about the river nominations or the Rivers Management and Protection Program please contact Steve Couture, Rivers Coordinator at (603)271-8801 or Steven.Couture@des.nh.gov or visit the RMPP website: http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wmb/rivers/index.htm
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