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The South Branch Gale River in Bethlehem, NH.

The South Branch Gale River in Bethlehem, NH.

$690,000 in grants awarded for river and watershed conservation

Projects will help improve water quality, habitat, biodiversity, and flood resilience in Connecticut River watershed

CONCORD, NH (PRESS RELEASE) — The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation recently announced $690,228 in grant awards from its Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund. Grants were awarded to 13 projects across the Upper Connecticut River watershed.

“Each one of these projects is closely aligned with the fund’s mission to protect and improve the Connecticut River Watershed,” said Ben Amsden, a Charitable Foundation senior program officer who manages the Mitigation and Enhancement Fund program. “Through dam removal, property acquisition and habitat improvement, these projects will play a critical role in continuing the fund’s legacy of helping to protect the natural resources upon which so many of us rely.”

A 12-person advisory committee, made up of representatives of environmental organizations, state and federal agencies, local community groups and Great River Hydro, LLC, recommends grants from the fund to support restoration, protection, and enhancement of the river, wetlands, and shorelands within the upper Connecticut River watershed (upstream of White River Junction, Vermont). The fund will provide approximately $22 million for these projects in total. To date, the fund has awarded more than $15 million in grants.

The fund was created as part of the settlement agreement between the parties involved in the federal process to award a new operating license for three hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River at Fifteen Mile Falls near Littleton, NH and Ryegate, Vermont. The settlement agreement, signed in 1997, involved a collaborative process in which representatives of state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, the local community and the dams’ owner worked to accomplish a settlement to define the new license for Fifteen Mile Falls. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new license to operate the dams in April of 2002. Under this agreement, then-dam owner/operator TransCanada Hydro Northeast contributed a portion of the annual profits from dam operations to the fund. (TransCanada Hydro Northeast’s New England hydroelectric power portfolio was acquired by Great River Hydro, LLC in 2017.)

Grants were awarded to the following organizations in 2019:

American Rivers received $110,100 to remove the South Branch Gale River Dam in Bethlehem, NH and restore connectivity to the Gale River.

The Connecticut River Conservancy received five grants to support land conservation efforts along the Connecticut River:

  • $129,674 for restoration work at Pine Mill Dam and Clark Pond Dam in Haverhill, NH;
  • $6,950 for a planning and feasibility assessment of the removal of the remnant dams in North Stratford, NH (Lyman Falls) and Guildhall, Vermont (Wyoming Paper Company);
  • $9,597 for riparian buffer restoration on the Jacobs Brook in Orford, NH;
  • $7,426 for riparian buffer restoration on the West Branch of the Ompompanoosuc River in Strafford, Vermont;
  • $109,108 for the final engineering design for the removal of the Harvey’s Lake Dam along the Stevens River in Barnet, Vermont.

The Nature Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter received $7,000 to purchase a parcel of land for permanent protection as part of the Conservancy’s Maidstone Bends Preserve.

The Nature Conservancy’s Vermont Chapter received $121,500 to conserve the 227-acre Dorrance/Guiler property in Canaan, Vermont, which includes 1,850 feet of frontage on the Connecticut River and 7,500 feet on Willard Stream.

Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission received $13,160 to prepare a petition to designate the White River mainstream as an “Outstanding Resource Waters.”

Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife received $54,000 to partner with Trout Unlimited to improve Brook Trout habitat in five priority areas by adding large, woody material to streams.

The Vermont River Conservancy received two grants totaling $14,073:

  • A $9,994 grant will help complete a recreational access path stabilization project along the Nulhegan River; and
  • $4,079 will support a portage and access trail improvement project along the Connecticut River at Dodge Falls in Bath, NH.

White River Partnership received $107,640 to restore 30 miles of connectivity by implementing a project to remove the Upper and Lower Eaton Dams on the First Branch of the White River.

Application guidelines, deadlines to apply, and a list of priority areas for the Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund are posted at www.nhcf.org/mef. For more information, contact Ben Amsden at 603-225-6641 ext. 225 or Ora.Nzfqra@aups.bet.

About the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation is New Hampshire’s statewide community foundation, founded in 1962 by and for the people of New Hampshire. The Foundation manages a growing collection of 2,000 funds created by generous individuals, families and businesses, and awards more than $40 million in grants and scholarships every year. The Foundation works with generous and visionary citizens to maximize the power of their giving, supports great work happening in our communities and leads and collaborates on high-impact initiatives. For more information, please visit www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.