PLYMOUTH — On Wednesday August 14 more than fifty volunteers, citizens, and state and local officials were joined by Governor Maggie Hassan in a celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Rivers Management and Protection Program (RMPP). The event took place at Plymouth's Rotary Park Amphitheater and boat launch area.
The New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program was established in 1988 to "ensure the continued viability of New Hampshire rivers as valued ecologic, economic, public health and safety, and social assets for the benefit of present and future generations" (RSA 483:1). Approximately 1,000 river miles on New Hampshire have been designated into the Program. Sections of the Pemigewasset were designated in 1991.
A unique aspect of the Rivers Program is that local residents or groups nominate their river for designation. As a result of this grassroots support, 18 rivers or river segments flowing through 126 towns, places and state parks are now part of the Program. Upon designation, a partnership is created among the State, local citizens and their towns through the formation of a local advisory committee (LAC).
In true New Hampshire tradition, hundreds of citizens have volunteered their time and expertise to help their communities manage rivers and provide the State with local input regarding development proposals and other decisions that may impact rivers. The Pemigewasset River Local Advisory Committee (PRLAC) includes the communities of Franconia, Thornton, Campton, Plymouth, Holderness, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol, New Hampton, Hill, Sanbornton, and Franklin.
The event was coordinated by NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) staff and members of the statewide Rivers Management Advisory Committee (RMAC). There were comments from the state's Rivers Coordinator, members of the statewide RMAC, a New Hampshire egg farmer, an environmental manager for Monadnock Paper Mills, and the president of the New Hampshire Rivers Council. Several of these people also serve on their local advisory committee.
DES Commissioner Thomas Burack spoke briefly about rivers and watersheds and recognized six individuals with awards for their efforts over the years on behalf of New Hampshire's rivers. A local recipient was Pat Schlessinger of New Hampton for her efforts to establish to the RMPP. Governor Hassan gave the RMPP a commendation.
Attendees then gathered on the riverbank for a demonstration of water monitoring by members of PRLAC. While analyzing a water sample collected by Governor Hassan they explained that the results of their bimonthly sampling have been used by NH DES to detect trends in water quality of the past eleven years and that the results are included in a regular report to the US Environmental Protection Agency as part of the Clean Water Act.
The Governor was particularly interested in fostering understanding of river and watershed issues and river stewardship among New Hampshire's youth. Governor Hassan and other attendees ended the day with a closer look at the river and its banks by floating down portions of the Baker and Pemigewasset Rivers.