Sunday, September 8 HIKING OPPORTUNITIES AROUND THE LAKE Cove Cottages Meetinghouse 10-11 AM
Learn about summer and winter hiking opportunities in the undeveloped lands in and around the Merrymeeting Lake watershed. New Durham Residents and local hiking aficionados, Matt Murphy and Jeff Allard, will present on hiking opportunities, wildlife in the watershed, and how to be prepared for hiking in the relatively remote sections of our area. This topic is of particular interest now that the 2000-acre Birch Ridge Community Forest is now open for public access.
Saturday, July 13, 2019 New Durham Elementary School
MMLA Annual Meeting starts at 8:30am with Coffee and pastries. Business part of the meeting from 9:00 – 9:45am Year in review and presentation of proposed board for 2019 -2020
At 10:00am, a special celebration to commemorate the purchase of the Birch Ridge 2,000+ acres for conservation forever! Learn about the plans and vision to use this land responsibly, followed by guided tours of the property. Details and RSVP at https://seltnh.org/event/birch-ridge-celebration/
The environmental consultants, Forrest Bell Environmental Associates, will be making a presentation for the public on the status of the Merrymeeting Watershed including Merrymeeting Lake and all rivers and streams merging with the Merrymeeting River between the Merrymeeting Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. This meeting will address recurrent blooms of cyanobacteria seen in both New Durham and Alton and the sources of phosphorus, a nutrient, which is causing this problem. While Merrymeeting Lake enjoys some of the most pristine water in the State, the lake may become vulnerable, in the future, due to shoreline erosion and failing septic systems. The recent effect of logging on Merrymeeting Lake streams will also be covered.
The Merrymeeting River has been damaged by the discharge of many pounds of phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids from the Powder Mill State Fish Hatchery. The impact from the hatchery can be felt all the way to Lake Winnipesaukee. Efforts to minimize the discharge of nutrients from the hatchery must be instituted soon. Progress is being made both in terms of an interim facility to treat waste water, reducing phosphorus in the fish food, and raising some of the fish off-site. A permanent long-term solution requires establishing safe levels of phosphorus in the River. Recently the Water Quality Goals Committee met and set the maximum phosphorus concentrations everywhere in the Merrymeeting River at 10ug/L monthly average each month of the year. This is an ambitious goal which will require a permanent state-of-the-art hatchery waste water treatment facility.
Other problems arise in the Alton span of the Merrymeeting River particularly via Coffin Brook and Mill Pond. Using GIS-based Land use models the areas of high phosphorus stormwater runoff have been identified. While some sources of this phosphorus are occurring naturally, e.g. water leaving peat bogs, in many instances stormwater runoff is being influenced by fertilizer use, agricultural practices, culverts and roadside erosion, plowing practices and residential stormwater runoff. Each of these problems can be addressed and, once remediated, will greatly reduce the availability of phosphorus in waterbodies.
Another potential problem will appear after the hatchery discharge is discontinued. Several of our impounded waterways, i.e. Marsh and Jones Ponds for certain and possibly Mill Pond, develop a state of oxygen depletion near the sediment during the summer. When this happens, internal loading can occur. Internal loading refers to the ability of the sediment to release bound phosphorus back into the water and this could continue to cause elevated phosphorus concentrations until this storage site (the sediment) is depleted, which may take decades. Approaches to resolve these problems will be discussed.
However, it is how we develop the remaining land in the future which can have the greatest long-term impact. If all the remaining land available for residential housing in the watershed is built-out the number of new buildings will exceed the current number of buildings by over 200%. Should this new construction be allowed to proceed unabated the consequences for the Merrymeeting River and Lake Winnipesaukee are profound.
Last year’s roadside cleanup was a tremendous success, with nearly 50 volunteers participating and collecting more than 20 bags of trash!
Bring your family/friends and neighbors to participate in the MMLA Annual Roadside Cleanup on Sunday, May 26, 2019 (Memorial Day Weekend).
Please join us at 9:00 a.m. at Meetinghouse/Cove Cottages for complimentary coffee and donuts. Plastic bags and gloves will be provided for collecting trash and recyclables. Volunteers will be assigned sections of Merrymeeting Lake Road, South Shore Road, and North Shore Road.
In appreciation of your participation in this important community activity, volunteers will each receive a MMLA t-shirt! Let’s clean up the roadside together and protect our lake environment for all to enjoy.
Amateur birders on Merrymeeting Lake: Fred Quimby is trying to get an accurate waterfowl count this year on Merrymeeting Lake and would like anyone sighting waterfowl to send him the type, number, location by cove, and approximately time and day by email at email@example.com. Thank you.
I am thrilled to share with you that last Friday the Birch Ridge Community Forest was officially awarded a $350,000 grant from the highly competitive Land and Community Heritage Investment Program! With this award, and a recent grant from the NH Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund, the fundraising goal of $2,950,000 to acquire, conserve, and steward the Birch Ridge Community Forest has been met!
This is a remarkable accomplishment completed in just seven months – only made possible by the leadership and generosity of lake and area residents who stepped up during the summer and fall to make gifts and pledges for the vision of the Birch Ridge Community Forest. Thank you all! Those gifts and pledges demonstrated the significance of this land and helped secure grants from state and federal agencies for the remaining funds. Our appreciation extends to our partners, SELT – the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways – whose leadership and professionalism developed a clear path for success.
What’s next? With the funding in place, the due diligence necessary to acquire the property is in full swing. SELT has hired the surveying firm of Eric C. Mitchell & Associates to complete the full property boundary survey, including any of the rights of way strips that extend to adjacent public roads like South Shore Road. Don’t be surprised if you see them doing their field work!
SELT and MMRG continue to work with the Birch Ridge Community Forest Steering Committee to develop a formal management plan for the property. Stay tuned for updates on that planning process or visit SELT’s page about the project, where regular updates will be posted.
In closing, although we have successfully reached the financial goal for the Birch Ridge property, this opportunity has sparked many to consider how to proactively conserve the remaining watershed of Merrymeeting Lake. To that end, if you were waiting until the last moment to contribute, you still can give by contributing to the Merrymeeting Lake Association’s Conservation Fund. Your donation to the MMLA conservation fund is tax deductible as allowed by law. Your donation today will help continue our efforts, in partnership with SELT and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, to put more available land into conservation and protect the water quality and scenic views of Merrymeeting Lake. Send your donation to MMLA PO Box 468 New Durham NH 03855, with “Conservation Fund” in the memo field.
I look forward to sharing further updates as this effort moves to the next stage in 2019 and as we plan for a community celebration next summer. Happy holidays to you and your family!