Members of the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative proudly display the US Water Prize – left to right: YCSWCD District Manager Melissa Brandt, AWWA Executive Director Linda Schier, YCSWCD Chairman Glenn Wildes, AWWA President Dick DesRoches, MMRG Chairman Art Slocum, and MMRG Executive Director Virginia Long.
Headwaters Groups Protect the Salmon Falls River
Maintaining the water quality of the Salmon Falls River is high on the priority list for the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA), Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG), and the York County Soil and Water Conservation District (YCSWD). Representatives from each group recently gathered in Union, NH to celebrate the US Water Prize awarded to the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative. The Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative, an ambitious inter-state effort to protect drinking water supplies for more than 47,000 residents in Maine and New Hampshire, was named a 2012 U.S. Water Prize award winner by The Clean Water America Alliance.
As members of the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative, each group plays an essential part in its success. Together they helped coordinate the “Your Land, Clean Water, Your Legacy” programs held in Fall 2011 throughout the watershed, which encouraged forest landowners to learn about proper forest management and how that protects our water quality. Such educational programs are important because the Salmon Falls River is the largest river system contributing to the Great Bay estuary that borders both states, and was recently identified by the U.S. Forest Service as being the most threatened in the nation with regard to a potential decline in water quality due to conversion of private forested lands to housing.
The selection of the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative for the U.S. Water Prize highlights the importance of inter-jurisdictional partnerships to protect and sustain drinking water supplies. The success of the collaborative relies on the “on-the-ground actions” of multiple local watershed and community groups, municipalities, and landowners. The groups use grassroots messaging and community organizing to implement actions town-by-own, property-by-property throughout the watershed. The Collaborative unites to protect forests, champion smarter development approaches, and reduce water pollution from existing and future land development.
To learn more about the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative, to view the Action Plan, and for a list of the many funders and partners, please visit http://www.prep.unh.edu/sfwc.htm.
More information about the headwaters partners is provided below.
The Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA) has been focusing on the Salmon Falls watershed since it initiated the Salmon Falls Headwater Lakes Watershed Management Plan in 2008. Through their Youth Conservation Corps, road management projects, and outreach and education programs, AWWA has been actively reducing pollution into the headwater lakes. With support from the NHDES, MEDEP, and the towns of Wakefield, NH and Acton, ME, AWWA works across state lines with municipalities, lake associations and individual landowners to make the connections between activities on land and the quality of the water in the lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and underground. AWWA’s activities include school programs, summer paddles, lake association roundtables, discovery cruises and road erosion control projects. To learn more about AWWA visit www.AWwatersheds.org.
Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) works to conserve the natural resources of our region, including water resources, by protecting land from development. For the last two years, MMRG has been working to preserve 120 acres of land in Wakefield with a mile of frontage on Union Meadows and the Branch River, in the headwaters of the Salmon Falls watershed. MMRG has collaborated with the Town of Wakefield, the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, and the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game to secure $175,000 to fund this conservation project. The property had potential for subdivision development and for gravel mining, endangering water quality in the Salmon Falls. On Saturday morning, March 23, MMRG will hold a guided walk/snowshoe event on the Union Meadows property, which features stunning views from a tall gravel esker of the Branch River rushing below. For more information about the upcoming event and about MMRG, visit www.mmrg.info.
The York County Soil & Water Conservation District (YCSWCD) has been working for many years to monitor and protect the water quality of lakes and urban streams in the Salmon Falls watershed. Projects include stormwater treatment, erosion control, best management practices, camp road and culvert improvements and invasive plant management. YCSWCD recently received funding to conduct on-the-water trainings for identifying and surveying invasive aquatic plants in the Salmon Falls River. YCSWCD is also involved in the ‘Forest Works!’ project to improve landowner knowledge about forest management practices and protecting the working forests in York County. In addition, the District provides education to students around the county on wildlife, erosion, stormwater, forestry and agriculture issues and coordinates the SW Regional Envirothon. Visit www.yorkswcd.org for more information on upcoming events and workshops sponsored by YCSWCD.