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.
The Merrimack Conservation Plan provides a detailed look at the conservation focus areas for the region and how they were determined. Development was guided by a group of stakeholders who provided their expertise throughout and participated in the Delphi voting that prioritized the data inputs. Data that drove the planning process were primarily gathered from the two state data libraries, GRANIT and MassGIS, and from state agencies, such as NH Department of Environmental Services. In addition, some regional and national data sets, such as the National Land Cover Database and The Nature Conservancy’s resilience data were included as well.
The fact sheet is a quick-start guide to the Merrimack Conservation Partnership and serves as a easy resource for how to read the Conservation Focus Areas Map.
Map and GIS Data
The Conservation Focus Area Map shows all the “co-occurrences” of four main conservation themes in the Merrimack Valley Region: 1) Wildlife Habitat, 2) Water Resources, 3) Agriculture and Forestry, and 4) Recreation and Trails. There are a couple different versions of this map that you can download. The first includes a layer showing all of the existing conservation land (reported by the state-wide database in 2014). The second does not include the conservation land and features just the conservation focus areas. Download them below:
- Conservation Focus Area Map with Conservation Lands
- Conservation Focus Area Map w/o Conservation Lands
If you are familiar with how to use GIS mapping tools, you can also download shapefiles for the Merrimack Conservation Plan’s study area and conservation focus area: