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Ammonoosuc River, Bethlehem, NH. (Courtesy photo.)

Ammonoosuc River, Bethlehem, NH. (Courtesy photo.)

NH Charitable Foundation awards more than $1.2 million in grants to support 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 $1,208,662 in grant awards from its Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund. Grants were awarded to support 11 projects across the Upper Connecticut River watershed.

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 $16.8 million in grants.

“These projects are excellent representations of 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. “The advisory committee is proud to support these eight organizations and the great work they are doing to protect and preserve environmental resources throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.”

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:

American Rivers received $601,102 to support the continued removal of the Gale River Dam in Bethlehem.

The Connecticut River Conservancy received three grants totaling $181,300:

  • $47,700 for design, permitting, and outreach related to the proposed removal of significant recreational hazards at remnant dams located in North Stratford, NH (Lyman Falls) and Guildhall, VT (Wyoming Paper Co).
  • $58,300 for engineering design and permitting for the ongoing Kimball Brook dam removal project.
  • $75,300 to conduct 14 riparian buffer plantings in floodplain forests and former agricultural lands throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.

White River Partnership received $186,858 to work with Vermont River Conservancy to restore 60 miles of river connectivity by removing the Hyde Dam located in East Bethel, Vt.

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail received $6,000 to enhance accessibility, safety, and the protection of riparian resources by developing portage and river access trails along the Upper Ammonoosuc River at the Red Dam and the Brooklyn Dam sites in Groveton.

The Vermont River Conservancy received two grants totaling $35,882:

  • $9,583 to develop a portage trail at Beecher Falls, along the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail.
  • $26,299 to acquire a 6.5-acre parcel adjacent to the Connecticut River in Thetford, Vt. The land will be managed in collaboration with the Thetford Conservation Commission and used primarily as a nature preserve with a campsite for paddlers as part of the Connecticut River Paddlers’ Trail.

The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests received $46,200 to support the Ammonoosuc River Protection Project in Bethlehem, NH, which will permanently conserve 257 acres, including 1.8 miles of frontage on the Ammonoosuc and seven feeder streams, including Haystack Brook.

The Trust for Public Land received $102,000 to purchase and permanently conserve — in partnership with the Town of Hanover — a 250-acre property in the Mink Brook watershed that will become a new, municipally-owned town forest.

Trout Unlimited received $49,320 to add six miles of strategic, large wooded additions in seven headwater tributaries across five high-priority MEF watersheds, including Willard Stream, Blodgett Brook, Clough Brook, Paul Stream, and Cutler Mill Brook.

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.