The Merrimack River begins at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers in the town of Franklin, New Hampshire, and flows for 116 miles before running into the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, Massachusetts. The Merrimack River Watershed Council has nominated a 15 mile segment of the Merrimack River from the Merrimack-Bedford town line to the Massachusetts border for designation into the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program. This river segment has been evaluated by the Department of Environmental Services and found to qualify for designation.
The Rivers Management and Protection Program Act was passed by the General Court in 1988. The Act states in part: "it is the policy of the state to ensure the continued viability of New Hampshire rivers for the benefit of present and future generations. The state shall encourage and assist in the development of river corridor management plans and regulate the quantity and quality of in-stream flow along certain protected rivers or segments of rivers to conserve and protect outstanding characteristics including recreational, fisheries, wildlife, environmental, cultural, historical, archaeological, scientific, ecological, aesthetic, and community significance so that these valued characteristics shall endure as part of the liver uses to be enjoyed by New Hampshire people."
The Act directs the Department of Environmental Services to receive and evaluate nominations for the designation of rivers or river segments to protect outstanding values and characteristics under the Rivers Management and Protection Program. The Commissioner must forward approved nominations to the General Court for review and approval.
In fulfillment of this statutory directive, the nomination of the Lower Merrimack River is hereby forwarded to the General Court. The Department of Environmental Services recommends that this river segment be designated into the Rivers Management and Protection Program and classified as a "Community River" under the provisions of the protection measure amendments to RSA Ch. 483. The outstanding statewide and local resource values and characteristics which quality this river segment for designation are described in this report.