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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: December 11, 2019
CONTACT: Lori Sommer, 603 271-4059
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NHDES Awards Wetlands Protection and Stream Restoration Grants
$1,522,808 Provided to Six Projects

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Aquatic Resource Mitigation ("ARM") Fund Program has awarded funding from the Aquatic Resource Mitigation Fund for six projects in the Merrimack River watershed totaling $1,522,808.

The NHDES ARM Fund is established by NH law RSA 482-A:29, for the purpose of achieving no net loss of wetland functions and values from development projects.  If an applicant cannot avoid or minimize impacts, or locate onsite or local mitigation options, the In Lieu Fee mitigation option can be an effective option for projects impacting wetlands and streams. An ARM Fund Site Selection Committee is charged with identifying proposals to be funded by selecting high priority projects that most effectively compensate for the loss of functions and values from the projects that paid into the Fund. According to the law, the projects determined to be appropriate for receipt of ARM Fund monies are subject to approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers and the NH Wetlands Council.

Projects receiving funds in the Merrimack watershed include:

Campbell Hill Preserve, Francestown, NH

$233,700 was awarded to protect the 130-acre Campbell Hill Preserve and manage the property and its natural resources as forever-wild; providing perpetual protection of the land in its wild state. The property encompasses both the summit of Campbell Hill as well as lower elevation wetlands, ensuring long term protection of the wetland system's upland buffer. There are 9 acres of palustrine wetlands on the property and have active beaver. The project will protect 1,400 linear feet of Brennan Brook which is a headwater stream of the designated South Branch Piscataquog River. The preserve will protect important wildlife habitat and is mapped as 95% 'Supporting Landscape' and 5% as 'Highest Ranked Habitat in Biological Region ' by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan. The preserve contributes to landscape connectivity efforts and is directly adjacent to the conserved Brennan Falls Preserve (149 acres) and lies within the largest forest block within the HUC 10 watershed.

Lyndeborough Road Crossing of Meadow Brook/ New Boston, NH

$250,000 will be used to upgrade a deficient stream crossing on Meadow Brook to restore aquatic connectivity and increase flood resiliency on a tributary to the designated South Branch Piscataquog River. The existing road crossing consists of twin plastic culvert pipes that are severely undersized and often overtop during flood events. The current culvert is also a barrier to aquatic organism passage and does not accommodate the natural water and sediment transport processes of the stream. Meadow Brook has a high fishery restoration potential with a local population of native brook trout and is identified as 'Highest Ranked Habitat in Biological Region' by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan. The ARM grant funds will be used to install a new 26'wide by 8.5' tall open-bottom span that meets current safety standards and the NH Stream Crossing Guidelines. The new crossing will have the hydraulic capacity to pass a 100-year flood event, and will provide full aquatic organism passage for fish and turtles. By restoring the natural stream bed through the crossing, this project will reconnect 4,150 feet of upstream habitat for fish and wildlife to the downstream South Branch Piscataquog River.

Murray Mill Brook/ Auburn and Candia, NH

$300,000 to permanently protect 220 acres of land in the Massabesic Lake watershed with a conservation easement. Protection of this parcel has significant benefits to a diversity of aquatic resources and public drinking water quality. The property contains 40 acres of wetlands, all of which drain into Little Lake Massabesic and Massabesic Lake— a public drinking water supply for more than 160,000 residents in the City of Manchester and neighboring towns. There are more than 30 distinct wetlands scattered across the property, including 12 confirmed vernal pools that support spotted salamander and wood frog breeding habitat. The project will protect 5,912 linear feet of stream, including significant frontage along Murray Mill Brook, the largest tributary to Little Massabesic Lake. The project contributes to ongoing landscape connectivity efforts in the region by protecting areas of riparian habitat along Murray Mill Brook that have been identified as a critical wildlife corridor in The Nature Conservancy's 'Connect the Coast' study. The project protects important wildlife habitat identified by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan as 'Highest Ranked Habitat in NH' (2 acres), 'Highest Ranked Habitat in the Biological Region' (30 acres), and 'Supporting Landscape' (144 acres).

Nissitissit River Headwaters/ Mason, NH

$500,000 to permanently protect a 274-acre parcel with high-quality aquatic and terrestrial wildlife habitat, as well as provide significant benefits to downstream water quality through headwater protection. The property contains a diversity of valuable aquatic resources including 25 acres of wetlands, 10 confirmed vernal pools, and 9,600 feet of perennial and intermittent streams. This project would protect several headwater streams to the Nissitissitt River, which is registered as a National Wild & Scenic River. The project will protect. The project has significant wildlife habitat benefits and will protect 135 acres (49%) of '' Highest Ranked Habitat in NH', and 14 acres as ' Highest Ranked Habitat in Biological Region, identified by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan. Protecting this parcel builds upon on a larger conservation effort in the Nissitissitt, which to date has protected over 1,700 acres of land held by local partners, and lies within a larger 6,934 acre unfragmented forest habitat block.

Piscataquog South Branch Connectivity Project / Francestown, NH

$104,108 to protect 10 acres of riparian buffer and upland forests along approximately 1,200 feet of the designated South Branch Piscataquog River. This project will protect both upland buffer and riparian important riparian corridors, including a perched seepage swamp, floodplain forest, and an overflow channel. The parcel has significant wildlife value with 8-acres classified as the 'Highest Ranked Habitat in NH' by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan, coldwater habitat for native brook trout, and suitable habitat for special concern species in the vicinity of the project. This project contributes to a local conservation effort to protect land in the South Branch Piscataquog watershed as part of the Headwaters-South Branch Initiative by adding to a total 448 acres of previously protected floodplains, wetlands, and uplands along the South Branch Piscataquog River.

Pollard Road Culvert Replacement/ Plaistow, NH

$135,000 to replace an undersized culvert on Seaver Brook and restore aquatic organism passage and hydrologic connectivity of the stream. The current stream crossing is an old, 24" concrete pipe that is a persistent flood hazard, overtopping at the 5-year storm event and depositing road material into the stream. The existing undersized culvert is preventing sediment transport and floodplain conveyance, which has led to sediment buildup upstream and scour of downstream banks. Furthermore, the culvert is perched several inches above the stream, creating a barrier to fish and wildlife passage. Restoring aquatic connectivity at this location would have significant fishery benefits and the area surrounding Seaver Brook is designated as 'Highest Ranked Habitat' by the NH Fish and Game Wildlife Action Plan. Seaver Brook is a perennial headwater stream that is habitat for American eel, (species of concern) and bridle shiner (state threatened). Funds from the ARM grant will be used to install a new 18-foot box culvert that is embedded using natural stream substrate, including a wildlife shelf through the culvert, to allow for full terrestrial and aquatic animal passage. In-stream rehabilitation will include removal of the road material from the stream and restoring the streambed and banks to a natural condition.
 
For more information on the NHDES Aquatic Resource Mitigation Program, visit the new ARM Fund website or contact NHDES Mitigation Coordinator, Lori Sommer, at lori.sommer@des.nh.gov or (603) 271-4059.




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