IV. Summary and Recommendations
The Pemigewasset River supports 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 Pemigewasset River through Franconia Notch State Park and from the northernmost town line in Thornton to its confluence with the Merrimack River into the Rivers Management and Protection Program and classifies the river as a "Natural River" through Franconia Notch State Park, a "Rural River" from the northernmost townline of Thornton to the 1-93 Bridge in Plymouth, a "Community River" from the 1-93 Bridge in Plymouth to the Holderness/ Ashland townline, a "Rural River" from the Holderness/Ashland townline to the Franklin Falls Flood Control Dam in Franklin, and a "Community River" from the Franklin Falls Flood Control Dam to its confluence with the Merrimack River.
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 the river 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 Pemigewasset River 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 river and will focus attention on the river as a natural resource 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 river was designated.
Recommendation 2: The towns along the designated segments of the Pemigewasset River should continue to work toward the protection of the Pemigewasset River 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 Pemigewasset River's 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 Committee and towns along the Pemigewasset River 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 Pemigewasset River will "endure as part of the river uses to be enjoyed by New Hampshire people."