Today state and federal agencies and nonprofit conservation groups announced the near-completion of the Winnicut River restoration project and also launched the Partnership to Restore New Hampshire’s Estuaries, all on the site of the demolished Winnicut River Dam. Project partners and congressional representatives celebrated the final phase of seven years of work – the removal of the Winnicut River Dam and installation a new fish ladder – and ushered in a new age of collaboration with the Partnership.
The Partnership’s goal is to increase the pace and scale of activities that enhance salt marshes, eelgrass meadows, fish spawning grounds, shellfish beds, and other important estuarine systems. Estuaries are critical habitats where fresh and salt water mix.
"With the signing of the official agreement, a strong alliance has been formed. It is fitting to have the signing on the site of the Winnicut River Restoration project, where the work of so many partners has come to fruition," said NHDES Commissioner Tom Burack.
"The Winnicut River watershed is a vital part of the Great Bay Estuary. Dam removal projects will only improve river system functions for fish and wildlife that rely on good water quality, and critical habitat for survival, especially unique habitats such as head-of-tide areas. Through collaborative efforts, such as the Winnicut River dam removal project, partnerships are forged between federal and state agencies, municipalities, and NGOs in reaching common goals," said Glenn Normandeau, Director of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
"New Hampshire’s estuaries are exceptional, providing our region with food, jobs, history, recreational opportunities and precious natural resources," said Dr. Raymond Konisky, Director of Marine Science and Conservation for The Nature Conservancy. "The Partnership agreement is a huge step forward for estuary restoration in New Hampshire; it is exactly the kind of partnership we need to meet the challenges facing our state's coastal resources. The Partnership to Restore New Hampshire’s Estuaries is a commitment to action, which will provide the technical leadership and expertise in ecosystem-based management for our marine environment," said Dr. Konisky.
The Winnicut River restoration project aims to restore migratory and resident fish movement on the main stem of the Winnicut River through the removal of the dam and installation of a new fish pass structure. The dam was demolished in late September. All work on the project is slated to be completed by late fall.
"The Winnicut Dam Removal is not only working to restore the Winnicut River, but supporting local jobs too," said Pat Montanio, Habitat Program Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service. "Opening this river will help improve water quality, provide habitat for a diverse array of fish species and support new recreational opportunities for area citizens."
The NH Coastal Program at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services received $500,000 in stimulus funding for the Winnicut River restoration project from NOAA. This project was one of 50 proposals selected out of a national pool of 814 proposals to receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds for marine and coastal habitat restoration. The total cost of the project is $1,094,075. Additional funding entities for this project include: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, NH Fish and Game Department, NH Charitable Foundation, NH Moose Plate Grant Program, and the Coastal Conservation Association. The "stimulus" funding will support the creation of 21 jobs over the project duration.
For more information, visit the Winnicut Dam removal website and type "Winnicut" in the search box located in the upper right hand corner. View images of the Winnicut Dam removal construction site and the Winnicut "Dam Cam" and get more information on the Partnership to Restore New Hampshire’s Estuaries.
Partnership to Restore New Hampshire’s Estuaries:
• Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
• National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
• New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
• NHDES Coastal Program
• New Hampshire Fish and Game Department
• Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
• The Nature Conservancy
• United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service
• United States Fish and Wildlife Service
• University of New Hampshire Marine Program
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
(603) 659-2678, x 13