The most significant news for the Souhegan River this year is the upcoming Instream Flow Study that will ultimately affect all the rivers in the state. The Souhegan River was chosen by DES and the General Court as a pilot project for a study that will be reported back to the legislature. This is the part of the Rivers Management and Protection Program that has never been implemented in the fifteen years since it was adopted. A couple of unsuccessful forays into recommendations for Instream Flows have been attempted in the past, but this is the beginning of what was promised to protected rivers under RSA 483. The Souhegan River Local Advisory Committee (SoRLAC) will be involved with and continue to follow this pilot process closely to ensure the resources and characteristics for which the river was designated are protected and maintained.
The Nashua Regional Planning Commission received a NHDES Watershed Restoration grant to help SoRLAC develop a river corridor and watershed management plan and work is underway for this significant project. RSA 483 authorizes this plan to be adopted by the river communities as part their management plans, and we look forward to developing that reflects the sentiments of our communities to take advantage of this opportunity. This project will have a kick off through a State of the Watershed meeting this spring.
It is hard to believe how many projects along the Souhegan are being planned and have to be reviewed by SoRLAC. We have made some suggestions that have improved the health of the river but are concerned by the number of developers seeking to gain approvals without thorough documentation of the potential environmental impacts. This includes a proposal to stabilize a section of riverbank and prevent the natural meandering of the river's course.
SoRLAC continues to work closely with the Souhegan Watershed Association (SWA), who first proposed our nomination, and the three canoe trips sponsored by the Merrimack River Watershed Council and SWA. We also work with SWA in biweekly summer water quality monitoring along the entire length of the river and with participation in the Adopt a Salmon Family program for local watershed schools where children raise salmon in their classrooms and then release them into the Souhegan in the spring.
Other watershed partners include the Purgatory Brook Watershed Association. SoRLAC was heartened by its recent formation and its efforts to acquire land along this major tributary of the Souhegan River.
As always the time and expertise provided by staff Angie Rapp from the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and Steve Couture, our Rivers Coordinator, is greatly appreciated.
Author: George May, Chair, Souhegan River Local Advisory Committee