In 1990, a segment of the Lamprey River in Lee and Durham was named to the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program. Under the terms of that designation, the Lamprey River Advisory Committee (LRAC) was formed in 1991. In 1996, the US Congress designated an 11.5 mile segment in Lee, Durham, and part of Newmarket to the National Park Service’s National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. An additional 12 mile segment in Epping was added in 2000. In 2011, the entire Lamprey River and five of its major tributaries (Little, North, North Branch, Pawtuckaway, and Piscasic rivers) were added to the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program.
The original Lamprey River Advisory Committee consisted of representatives from the Wild and Scenic River towns of Epping, Lee, Durham, and Newmarket. Members are nominated by their local governing bodies and appointed by the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Members represent different interests on the river, including local governing boards, river-front property owners, businesses, historians, recreationists, and farmers. In 2011, the committee expanded significantly to include representatives from all towns that lie in the Lamprey River drainage area. This larger committee is a local advisory committee as defined in the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program. The committee is now formally called the Lamprey Rivers Advisory Committee. Because the Wild and Scenic designation bestows certain responsibilities and funding that apply only to the Wild and Scenic section of the main stem Lamprey River, representatives from the Wild and Scenic towns participate in both the Lamprey Rivers Advisory Committee and the Wild and Scenic Subcommittee.
The Lamprey River is also the focus of the Lamprey River Watershed Association. The LRWA is a registered 501 (c) (3) non-profit as defined by the US Internal Revenue Service. It is comprised of volunteers from the fourteen towns in the Lamprey River's drainage area. To connect to their website, please click here www.lrwa-nh.org. The LRAC and the LRWA often work closely together to protect and enhance the natural assets of the river.
One of the principle responsibilities of LRAC is the development and implementation of a long range River Management Plan. The plan is based on protecting and enhancing the outstanding values of wildlife habitat, history, and recreation that earned the river its inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program. The on-going work of the committee focuses on activities that meet goals of the plan in cooperation with local towns, schools, residents, and conservation or historic organizational partners.
Another important state mandate of the committee is to review and comment on all projects within the quarter mile corridors of the Lamprey River and the five designated tributaries (Little, North, North Branch, Pawtuckaway, and Piscassic rivers) that could impact the river. Comments are submitted to state and federal agencies responsible for approving these projects. Examples of projects that the LRAC has reviewed include the following:
the Durham/University of New Hampshire permit for withdrawing water from the Lamprey for its public water supply
removal of the old bridge and construction of the new Wiswall Bridge in Durham
fish passage over the Wiswall Dam
improvements to the Epping Wastewater Treatment Plant
a proposed golf course along the Lamprey in Durham
Northern Pass transmission line
The committee is also directed "to consider the disposition of state-owned surplus lands along the river." When the state no longer desires to own and manage land that once served a purpose, that land can be sold or donated to another entity. In one case involving land around the former Bunker Pond Dam in Epping, the committee recommended donating land adjacent to Mary Blair Park to the Town of Epping and retaining ownership on the other side of the river for access to the remaining dam abutment.
The Wild and Scenic River designation and inclusion in the NH Rivers Management and Protection Program do not confer any power to the committee over private property or local control of the river. When state or federal permits are necessary because of the scale or potential impact of a project, however, the responsible agencies must seek and seriously consider the comments and recommendations of the Lamprey Rivers Advisory Committee.
Because a section of the Lamprey is a Wild and Scenic River, the National Park Service provides the LRAC with some operating funds. These funds pay for general and project expenses, part-time land protection specialists, a part-time outreach specialist, and personnel support from the National Parks Service's Boston office. The National Park Service funding is designated for use primarily in the Wild and Scenic towns of Epping, Lee, Durham, and Newmarket. The New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program provides no funding to designated rivers.
Since 1999, a separate allocation has also been made by the US Congress for funding conservation easements and associated costs for protecting land in the Lamprey corridor. Working with conservation partners, the LRAC has permanently protected approximately 4000 acres of land, with more than 13 miles of river frontage. Land protection along the Lamprey is one of the best ways to ensure clean water and critical wildlife habitat now and into the future.
Examples of other LRAC activities are found throughout this web site:
the development of a river-based curriculum for elementary and high school students containing elements of history, science, writing, and art
production of DVDs that focus on the history and issues of the river
significant work at Wiswall Falls including funding the facing of the new bridge abutments with historic stone, and creating four panels for a kiosk about the industrial and natural history of the site and along the river. Work continues with planning for a river-front park.
funding wildlife research in the river corridor
holding informational workshops on history and stewardship of riverfront lands for citizens in the Lamprey River watershed
participating with local, state and federal agencies in the development of a water management plan (Instream Flow) to maintain adequate flows and volume in the river for human and wildlife needs
Meetings are open to the public. The expanded Lamprey Rivers Advisory Committee meets the fourth Thursday of every month. The Wild and Scenic Subcommittee holds its meeting on the second Tuesday evening of every month. Meeting notices are posted at the town halls and on this website's calendar. Please contact Sharon Meeker for more details.