Bath Bridge, Spanning Ammonoosuc River in Bath. (Courtesy photo.)

Bath Bridge, Spanning Ammonoosuc River in Bath. (Courtesy photo.)

$600k in grants will support river and watershed conservation projects

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

CONCORD, NH (PRESS RELEASE) – The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation recently announced almost $600,000 in grant awards from its Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund. Grants were awarded to 13 projects across the upper Connecticut River watershed.

“These projects are improving water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and flood resilience,” said Peter Benson, a Charitable Foundation senior program officer who manages the Mitigation and Enhancement Fund program. “And this round of grants will bring in more than $700,000 in funding for these projects from other sources.”

A 12-person advisory committee, made up of representatives of environmental organizations, state and federal agencies, local community groups and TransCanada Hydro Northeast 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 is expected to provide approximately $22 million for these projects. To date, the fund has awarded more than $14.4 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, dam owner/operator TransCanada Hydro Northeast contributed a portion of the annual profits from dam operations to the fund.

Grants were awarded to the following organizations:

The Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust received three grants to support land conservation efforts along the Connecticut River:

  • $63,300 for conservation of a 200-acre parcel located at the confluence of the Connecticut and Ammonoosuc Rivers in Bath;
  • $35,500 for conservation of a 12-acre parcel that will conserve important shoreland and floodplain habitat along the Ammonoosuc River in Bath; and
  • $19,025 to protect 33 acres of floodplain forest and other riparian habitat in Haverhill.

The Connecticut River Conservancy received three grants totaling $278,102:

  • A $247,802 grant will support removal of the Norwich Reservoir Dam along Charles Brown Brook in Norwich, Vermont;
  • $25,300 will support final riparian restoration and monitoring of the East Burke Dam removal site on the East Branch of the Passumpsic River in East Burke, Vermont; and
  • A grant of $5,000 will enable engineering design for removal of the Harvey’s Lake Dam along the Stevens River in Barnet, Vermont.

The Nature Conservancy’s New Hampshire Chapter received a two-year, $23,000 grant to support outreach to Connecticut River landowners to promote land conservation along high-priority reaches of the upper Connecticut River, including the Maidstone Bends.

Trout Unlimited received $30,000 to continue in-stream restoration along the Black Branch of the Nulhegan River in northeastern Vermont.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife will use a three-year, $40,789 grant to establish new populations of the federally-endangered Jesup’s milk-vetch on several sites along the Upper Connecticut River.

The Vermont River Conservancy was awarded two grants totaling $11,437 to support canoe-campsite development and management along the Connecticut River.

The White River Partnership received two grants totaling $95,204 to support two dam-removal projects:

  • $57,109 will help purchase land to facilitate removal of the Hyde Dam on the Second Branch of the White River; and
  • $38,095 will support engineering design for eventual removal of 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 Peter Benson at 603-225-6641 ext. 271 or Peter.Benson@nhcf.org.

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 1,900 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.