III. Local Support
Local support for the designation the Saco River into the Rivers Management and Protection Program is strong. At Town Meeting in March 1989, the towns of Harts Location, Bartlett, and Conway voted to support the Saco River Advisory Council for the purpose of making recommendations to the towns and the Rivers Management Advisory Committee on the protection and management of the river. In June 1989, the Saco River Advisory Council prepared and distributed a questionnaire to riparian landowners in Harts Location, Bartlett, Conway, and Albany. Thirty-seven percent of the landowners responded to the survey. Respondents indicated that they value the natural beauty, good water quality, recreation, free-flowing character, and undeveloped character of the Saco River. Ninety-seven percent indicated that the river contributes to the quality of life in the community. Eighty-six percent of the respondents believe that the Saco River is worthy of designation as a special river in New Hampshire.
A public hearing was held on December 11, 1989, to receive public comments on the nomination of the Saco River. The hearing was held at the John Fuller School in North Conway and was amended by more than 50 people. In general, an overwhelming majority of those in attendance expressed support for the designation of the river. Some landowners in Harts Location and Bartlett expressed concern that a prohibition against new channel alterations under the proposed protection measures for a Natural River would prevent the safeguarding of privately-owned property against movement of the river channel. Many landowners who expressed this concern also voiced support for the designation of the river in Harts Location as a Rural River.
The Conway Board of Selectmen has formally indicated its support for the designation of the Saco River into the Rivers Management and Protection Program. The White Mountain National Forest has also expressed support for the state designation of the Saco River.