This process was initiated by the Warner Conservation Commission (WCC) as a result of NH Fish & Game’s (NHF&G) and Basil Woods Jr., Chapter of Trout Unlimited’s (Basil Woods TU) positive findings of the wild brook trout conservation work conducted in the Warner River watershed streams in the summer of 2012. Since raising the public’s awareness of opportunities to conserve Warner’s natural environment is key to the mission of the commission and Warner’s Conservation Plan, they partnered with NH F&G biologist Ben Nugent and Basil Woods TU Conservation Chair, George Embley, to engage area volunteers and wildlife experts to learn more about the water quality, aquatic insects and environmental conditions necessary to support native brook trout in this region. Initial survey results indicated that two-thirds of the streams studied in the Warner River watershed are home to these beautiful fish; they inhabit some very unlikely streams and excellent stream water quality has been the key to their survival.
The following years, the project expanded to testing water quality within the streams and identifying barriers to their natural movement within the watershed. Several impassible road-stream crossings were identified throughout the watershed. These crossings not only inhibit trout from retreating to cooler headwaters and spawning grounds, they also increase stream erosion and flood risk for watershed communities. Undersized, perched and inadequate culvert-stream crossings are the reason why many of our roads were eroded during the 2006 Mother’s Day Storm and other more recent high intensity storms. Failure of these structures has led to excessive sediment loading to the Warner River which can degrade the Warner River’s water quality and can lead to increased damage within the river corridor.
Warner’s Hazard Mitigation Plan Update 2014 identifies Flooding, Hurricanes and Severe Storms, Rapid Snow Pack Melt and Lightening (and Forest Fire) as the highest natural disaster risks. The plan makes note of the several significant natural disasters that have occurred within the last decade and recognizes that these events are now occurring with more frequency with presidential declared disasters for Merrimack County now occurring almost yearly. For all three major floods (2005, 2006, and 2007), Warner was able to complete improvement projects with the FEMA reimbursement funding for this disaster that they had never been able to raise funding for. Although a tremendous number of desperately needed projects were able to be completed, twelve culverts are noted to be in need of replacement. Hazard mitigation plans for the towns of Bradford, Sutton, Webster and Hopkinton list even more.
Recent Severe Storms that have affected the Warner River:
Columbus Day Flood, Oct 2005
Mother’s Day Flood, Jun 2006
Flood, Apr 2007
Severe Storm, Tornado & Flood, Jul 2008
Tropical Storm Irene, Aug/Sept 2011
Nominating the Warner River into the NH RMPP affords tremendous opportunity for our watershed towns. Currently, there exists no formal group or organization that directly addresses and defends the Warner River and its watershed at a sufficient scope and scale to protect the valuable resources we take for granted today.
Summary of Reasons to Nominate the Warner River
• Recognizes & Promotes the Warner River as a Significant State Resource;
• Establishes a Local River Advisory Committee (LAC) that:
~ Creates a diverse, local forum for balancing and preserving this valuable resource;
~ Generates awareness of watershed water quality issues within local communities;
~ Develops a River Corridor Management Plan;
~ Promotes a watershed approach for Land Use Planning;
~ Promotes preservation of the River’s Historic, Cultural & Recreational Resources;
~ Makes recommendations for Land Use and Conservation within the river corridor;
~ Provides landowners along the river direct involvement;
~ Provides a stronger local voice at the state and federal levels;
~ Reviews/comments on how proposed development projects may impact the river;
~ May coordinate river-wide events and studies;
~ May assist watershed towns with grant funding for projects affecting the river;
~ May assist landowners protecting, maintaining, enhancing or promoting their land;
~ May assist local landowners and businesses with NHDES permitting applications.
• Promotes the value of river corridor land;
• Ensures priority NHDES assistance with preservation of High Water Quality;
• Ensures priority NHDES assistance with preservation and balance of In-Stream Flows;
• Encourages preservation of Wild Brook Trout and Other At-Risk Species;
• Enhances Aquifer and Private/Municipal Well Water protection;
• Enhances protection of Existing & Possible Future Green Energy Resources;
• Promotes balanced, Low-Impact Future Development along the River;
• Promotes More Water Quality Monitoring;
• Determines Aquatic and Terrestrial Invasive Plant Species Presence;
• Provides priority access to NH DES Resources; and
• Provides Preferred Grant Funding Opportunities for Community and Landowner needs.
Positive Comments From Others in Designated River Communities
More about the Warner River Watershed Conservation Project can be found here.
Climate Change Reports for New Hampshire
Climate Change in Southern NH
Sea-level Rise, Storm Surge and Extreme Precipitation Events in Coastal NH
Climate Change and Human Health in NH
Economic Studies Pertaining to our Surface Waters
The Economic Impact Of Potential Decline in New Hampshire Water Quality: The Link between Visitor Perceptions, Usage and Spending
What’s Our Water Worth? (condensed version of the report above).