Merrimack River Watershed
ABOUT THE WATERSHED
From its start in Franklin, N.H., the Merrimack flows through eight of New Hampshire’s ten largest cities, including Manchester, Nashua and Concord. The river continues into Massachusetts, running through Lowell and Lawrence to its mouth at Newburyport. The Merrimack River watershed — the land area that ultimately drains to the river — totals about 3,275 square miles or 2.1 million acres, divided almost evenly between New Hampshire (54%) and Massachusetts (46%). Despite being highly developed, the Merrimack Valley still contains critical terrestrial and aquatic habitats and contributes to the larger Gulf of Maine marine ecosystem. The watershed’s 2.6 million residents directly depend on the Merrimack watershed for drinking water, local food and forest products, and close-to-home outdoor recreation.
ABOUT THE MERRIMACK CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP
In 2010 the Merrimack River was identified by the US Forest Service as “one of the most threatened watersheds in the nation” in terms of projected loss of private forest land over the next twenty years. This designation inspired a broad partnership of environmental organizations and public agencies in New Hampshire and Massachusetts to embark on an ambitious effort to develop a conservation plan that would focus and accelerate land conservation in the Merrimack River watershed. Working together, the Merrimack Conservation Partnership developed a science-driven, consensus based, land conservation plan that integrates the best-available natural resource data with expert judgment to prioritize land protection in the Merrimack River valley.
ABOUT THE CONSERVATION PLAN
The Merrimack Conservation Plan is the final product of two years of effort by the Merrimack Conservation Partnership, representing 33 private organizations and public agencies in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In early 2012, this broad partnership committed itself to an ambitious effort to develop a conservation plan that would focus and accelerate land conservation in the Merrimack River watershed of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Working together, the group developed a science-driven, consensus land conservation plan that integrates the best-available natural resource data with expert judgement to prioritize land protection to protect water quality (especially drinking water supplies), preserve aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, conserve the region's working farms and forests, and provide recreational open space.