IV. Summary and Recommendations
The Contoocook and North Branch Rivers support a variety of significant state and local resources. To better protect and manage these resources, the Department of Environmental Services recommends the following actions:
Recommendation 1: The General Court should adopt legislation which designates the mainstem of the Contoocook River from the Outlet of Poole Pond to its confluence with the Merrimack River and the North Branch River from Rye Pond in Stoddard to its confluence with the mainstem of the Contoocook River into the Rivers Management and Protection Program and classifies the rivers as follows:
Community River - Outlet of Poole Pond in Rindge to Old Sharon Road Bridge in Jaffrey.
Rural River - Old Sharon Road Bridge in Jaffrey to Noone Falls Dam in Peterborough.
Community River - Noone Falls Dam in Peterborough to North Peterborough Dam.
Rural River - North Peterborough Dam to the monument on the Peterborough-Hancock town line.
Community River - The monument on the Peterborough-Hancock town line to the North Bennington Road Bridge in Antrim and Bennington.
Rural River - North Bennington Road Bridge in Antrim and Bennington to the confluence of the North Branch of the Contoocook River in Hillsborough.
Community River - Confluence of the North Branch River in Hillsborough to the Hosiery Mill Dam in Hillsborough.
Rural River - Hosiery Mill Dam in Hillsborough to the twin iron bridges In West Henniker.
Community River - The twin iron bridges in West Henniker to the Shoe Factory Dam In Henniker.
Rural River - Shoe Factory Dam in Henniker to the Riverhill Bridge in Penacook.
Community River - Riverhill Bridge in Penacook to the confluence with the Merrimack River.
North Branch River:
Rural River from the Outlet of Rye Pond In Stoddard to the, confluence with the Contoocook River in Hillsborough.
Under the provisions of the protection measure amendments to RSA Ch. 483, these designations will provide increased protection for the river in the areas of water quality, new dam construction, channel alterations, and the siting of solid and hazardous waste facilities within the river corridor. A designation will also require the establishment of protected instream flow levels to maintain the minimum amount of water in the river that is necessary to safeguard public trust resources for which it is designated, including water quality, recreation, fisheries, and scenic values. A Local River Management Advisory Committee will be established to coordinate local issues related to the protection and management of the river and will provide local residents with a direct avenue for formal input to state decisions that affect the river. Finally, a designation will result in the development of a long-range management plan for the river that coordinates state planning and management of fisheries, water quality and quantity, and recreation.
The designation of the Contoocook and North Branch Rivers under the Rivers Management and Protection Program will clearly express the intent of the General Court with regard to the protection and management of the rivers and will focus attention on the rivers as natural resources of both statewide and local significance. This attention will help to insure greater scrutiny of plans or proposals so as to protect the resources for which the rivers were designated.
Recommendation 2: The towns along the Contoocook and North Branch Rivers should continue to work toward the protection of the rivers through the adoption of local river corridor management plans.
While a state designation will improve the protection and management of the river itself, continuing local efforts will be needed to address the use and conservation of the river corridor. A growing recognition by local citizens of the Contoocook and North Branch Rivers valuable contribution to the overall quality of life in their communities is evidenced by their desire to see it designated into the Rivers Program. Citizen appreciation and concern for the river should be reflected in the decisions and actions of local officials. Upon request, the Department of Environmental Services will provide technical assistance to the Local River Advisory Committees and the towns along the Contoocook and North Branch Rivers on the development of local river corridor management plans, including comprehensive shoreland protection ordinances.
In summary, the establishment of a clear policy and specific instream protection measures by the General Court through designation, and a continuing commitment on the part of local governments and residents to protect and manage the river corridor through sound land use decisions will ensure that the outstanding resources of the Contoocook and North Branch Rivers will "endure as part of the river uses to be enjoyed by New Hampshire people."