Students cross streams and rivers every day without realizing how these waterways are connected and without thinking about their own role as residents of a watershed. As the Lamprey River Watershed Guide states, "You, and everyone in your watershed, use and impact the same water supply. You are all part of one watershed community.” The opening lesson should bring students a greater understanding of this concept.
A watershed can be defined as all the land that surrounds a body of water that drains into that body of water. The body of water can be a stream, river, lake, or estuary. Each stream collects water from its land area. Streams, in turn, drain into a river. In New England and many other places, rivers drain into an estuary. The watershed of a stream might be a few square miles. The watershed area of the Lamprey River is about 214 square miles. The Lamprey and several other rivers drain into Great Bay Estuary.
Within every watershed, water runs to the lowest point on that landscape - a stream, river or lake. On its way, the water travels across farm fields, forest land, parking lots, highways, city streets, and backyards. We and everyone in the watershed use and impact the same water supply. We are all part of at least one watershed community.
We are beginning to understand that in order to protect a river, we must protect the whole watershed. We have to include aquifers, wetlands, groundwater, marshes, streams and estuaries, plus forests, fields and other upland areas, because all parts of the watershed depend on all the other parts.
The Lamprey River Watershed is in the coastal basin and drains an area of 214 square miles. The size of the Lamprey's watershed is greater than the other watersheds that drain into Great Bay, thus, Great Bay's health is intimately tied to the health of the Lamprey.
The Lamprey River begins in the Saddleback Mountains in Northwood, New Hampshire and travels 47 miles to Great Bay. The elevation of the Lamprey drops 600 feet along its journey to the sea. All of the ponds, brooks, streams, lakes and rivers within this drainage area are part of the watershed. The Lamprey's important tributaries are the North Branch, Pawtuckaway, North, Little, and Piscassic Rivers.
The land at the headwaters of the Lamprey River is largely undeveloped and forested. Pawtuckaway State Park and Pawtuckaway Lake are dominant features in the upper watershed. Great Bay is the dominant feature at the river's mouth.
The primary towns in the watershed are Candia, Deerfield, Durham, Epping, Lee, Northwood, Nottingham, Newmarket and Raymond. Several other towns border the Lamprey River watershed, but do not contain any part of the Lamprey River or a major tributary. These towns are Barrington, Brentwood, Exeter, Fremont, and Newfields.
Students should understand that a watershed refers to a land area, not just water.
Before looking at a map of the Lamprey, try one or more of these approaches:
a) Ask students to describe in their journals the body of fresh water (stream, culvert, river, or pond) nearest to their house. What personal experiences have they had in connection with this water? (For example, trying to dam it, catching frogs, fishing, swimming, ice skating, driving by, etc..) What questions occur to them about the water they described? List their questions.
b) After the descriptions are written and their questions are listed, pose any of the following questions that students did not list, again using journals:
What is the name of your water body, and where did this name come from?
Do you know where this body of water begins (where the water in the pond or lake comes from)? ...Where it ends? What other bodies of water is it connected to? Where does this fresh water join salt water?
What drainage ditches, streams or rivers do you cross on your way to school?
What body of water is nearest to school? Is this water connected to the water near your house? How?
Where does the drinking water in your house come from? Where does the wastewater from your house go?
What watershed do you live in? (How do you know?) What is a watershed? (Give the students the definition above if they cannot derive one.)
c) You can also take students to an actual watershed and generate a list of questions based on what they see. Their questions might be more immediate in response to a first-hand experience. You might be able to walk to a stream or pond near school. If you decide to take a class trip to the Lamprey River early in the unit, refer to the suggestions in Lesson 4 of the elementary portion of the curriculum. You might arrange to have presenters at each stopping point to share information with students. Some of the questions inspired by this trip can help students later determine an area they would like to explore in depth for a project (see Section III, Research Projects).
d) Contact the UNH Marine Docents Program (749-1565) for a watershed workshop including an “enviroscape" watershed model and more.
e) A school district might include more than one watershed. Can students describe the boundaries between these watersheds?f) Once the Lamprey River is identified as a major watershed in your area and the focus of this unit, list a number of locations along the river familiar to students (e.g., recreation areas, home sites, road crossings) and see if students can say which sites are downstream of which. In other words, do they have a sense of the river as a whole, separate from the road system? Chances are, they do not. Once students have generated questions, they are ready to tum to maps of the Lamprey.