Merrimack Conservation Partnership Announces 2017 Environmental Science, Education and Outreach Grant Awards

The Merrimack Conservation Partnership (MCP) announced the 2017 recipients of its first round of Environmental Science, Education and Outreach grants in the Merrimack Valley Watershed region of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In this first round of grants, the MCP awarded grants totaling $15,000 to four projects that will help fund environmental science, education, and outreach activities related directly to the Merrimack River or its watershed. Funds can be used for activities such as youth or public environmental educational activities, development of outreach and educational materials, river clean-ups, water quality testing and monitoring activities, and other science, education, and outreach efforts.           

In 2010, the Merrimack was identified by the US Forest Service as the most threatened watershed in the nation in terms of projected loss of private forest land over the next 20 years. The two-state region of the Merrimack Watershed spans a total of 2.1 million acres and 3,275 square miles of which 54% is in NH and 46% in Massachusetts. The Merrimack River starts in Franklin, NH and flows through eight of NH’s largest cities. then continues into Massachusetts to its mouth at Newburyport.

Launched in 2012, the Merrimack Conservation Partnership is a collaborative effort of more than twenty private organizations and public agencies working on land conservation in the Merrimack Valley Watershed. The partners share a vision of conserving (on a strictly willing-seller/donor basis) the region’s most ecologically significant forests and the key connections between them for wildlife passage and human recreation.

Applicant:  Ipswich River Watershed Association, Ipswich, MA
MCP Grant Award: $2,200
Estimated Total Project Costs: $17,120

The Ipswich River Watershed Association will utilize an enhanced citizen science monitoring program to understand the distribution of non-point source pollution across 155 square miles of the Merrimack River watershed region. Monitoring will be done with approved MA DEP Quality Assurance Protection Plans (QAPPs), providing actionable information to address water quality impairments from nutrient and road salt pollution and aquatic invasive plants in a watershed that provides drinking water to more than 330,000 people. IRWA will develop, implement, and publicize the enhanced program from November 2017 through December 2018. The program will be institutionalized in an ongoing monitoring program for future years.

Applicant: Lowell Parks & Conservation Trust, Inc., Lowell, MA
MCP Grant Award: $4,400
Total Project Costs: $15,241

LP&CT requests support from the MCP SEO Grant program to support anadromous fish monitoring and restoration on the Concord River in Lowell. This project will directly contribute to the return of the historic run of the Concord River alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and other species through the training of stakeholders and volunteer monitors (in-person and video monitoring). MCP funding would support the hiring of a seasonal employee, river herring monitoring equipment (non-capital) and training, outreach, and reporting for the lower Concord River in collaboration with federal and state resources agencies. The project requires strong coordination with fishery agencies within the Merrimack River watershed.

Applicant: Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC), Lawrence, MA
MCP Grant Award: $4,400
Total Project Costs: $15,000

This grant will help MRWC initiate RSVP, its Riverbasin Stewardship and Volunteer Program, aimed at broadening and strengthening the connection between MRWC and watershed advocates in the upper Merrimack River region—especially concerned with development and the threats it poses to water quality. The main project animator will be a part-time River Steward who is practiced in building alliances and fully conversant with the region and its residents. The Northern Merrimack RSVP River Steward and an initial program will be up and running within 18 months. This is the initial segment of a larger River Steward program which is expected to be in place in five years.

Applicant: Nashua River Watershed Association, Groton, MA
MCP Grant Award: $4,000
Total Project Costs: $ 5,733

The Nashua River runs through the heart of the City of Nashua on its way to join the Merrimack River. The river’s story of recovery from severe pollution in the past highlights the importance of actively protecting both water and land. During February 2018 school vacation week, NRWA staff will lead the “Nashua River Junior Naturalist Program” for ages 8–12 at Nashua Public Library. Participants will explore river issues using exciting hands-on activities related to river ecology and watershed protection. “Nashua River Nature Journals” will be created to record daily discoveries and be placed on display for library visitor viewing.

For more information about the MCP, please contact Brian Hotz at (603) 224-9945 or

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