Mt. Ascutney Region

Updated Water Resources Chapter

1997 Connecticut River Corridor Management Plan

RECOMMENDATIONS

The recommendations offered below were reached on a consensus basis in 1992-1997 by the diverse membership of the Mt. Ascutney River Subcommittee.


FEDERAL AGENCIES

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should:

  • encourage public participation in the hydro relicensing process and maintain a balance among the many competing uses of the Connecticut River

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should:

  • focus on a plant and animal community level conservation strategy
  • integrate Atlantic salmon management with other local species
  • avoid further impoundment of the river and examine the impact of water flow regime upon habitat
  • encourage collection of information on habitat and species, and provide education for local conservation and planning commissions, outfitters, and citizens
  • within the Macrosite area, discourage use of riprap, impacts on wetlands, gravel mining in the river, and construction of new power boat launches
  • enter into cooperative agreements with willing landowners in association with the Silvio Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge

U.S. Department of Agriculture should:

  • improve funding for Cooperative Extension Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, particularly to assist farmers in developing nutrient management plans
  • adopt consistent, simple terms for cost-sharing programs
  • reduce the impact of insurance costs on agriculture and silviculture

Natural Resources Conservation Service should:

  • work with landowners and towns to explore alternative methods to control stream-bank erosion on problem sites

Cooperative Extension Service should:

  • provide estate planning assistance for farmers
  • encourage small part-time farming as a viable form of agriculture; utilize financial programs, markets, and educational tools
  • educate and assist farmers with best management practices
  • educate landowners about land application of biosolids

National Park Service should:

  • provide tax incentives and recognition for historic rehabilitation work
  • support state historic preservation and tourism offices
  • continue to preserve and protect the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site including the cultural and natural resources of the site. The NPS should respond to the articulated concerns of Cornish residents. The Park Service should not use eminent domain to acquire property, and should seek to protect the rural character of this area and the integrity of the riverbank.

STATE AGENCIES should:

  • ensure uniform administration of current use program among towns
  • Vermont should strengthen its current use taxation program
  • examine tax policies to be sure they encourage agricultural use of land
  • encourage recycling of industrial sites to relieve development pressure on agricultural lands
  • consider guiding the size and design of signage so that it does not detract from the character of the area

Water Quality agencies should:

  • continue and/or increase water quality monitoring activities
  • install a flow gauge near Springfield
  • work with landowners and towns to explore alternative methods to control streambank erosion on problem sites
  • enforce restrictions on dumping of snow in river
  • provide education for road agents in salt use, snow dumping, and maintenance of roads, ditches, and culverts
  • Vermont should adopt setbacks for solid waste disposal that match New Hampshire's
  • investigate means to limit addition of phosphorus to the river and tributaries
  • support Lebanon and Springfield in upgrading their wastewater treatment facilities, correcting combined sewer overflows to eliminate bacterial contamination, and conducting dye tests to identify possible straight pipe discharges in Springfield
  • require the railroad to equip all passenger car toilets with holding tanks; discourage use of creosote near the river
  • monitor toxicity in fish tissues, particularly for chromium, PCBs, and heavy metals, and inform the public
  • avoid further impoundment of the river and examine the impact of water flow regime upon habitat
  • provide grant assistance to regional planning commissions to help interested towns develop river conservation districts and other provisions which protect natural communities and rare species populations along the river
  • discourage construction of new marinas on the river
  • support the provisions of New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Act with respect to dredging, filling, gravel mining, and channel alteration
  • distribute accurate maps of aquifers and aquifer recharge areas to the towns as soon as they are available
  • investigate the politics, economics, and water quality implications of biosolid applications on agricultural fields
  • educate landowners about biosolid application
  • warn the public in situations where a potential exists for release of untreated or partially treated wastewater

Fish and Game/Wildlife agencies should:

  • protect rare remaining riffle habitat
  • undertake fish community studies
  • increase minimum catch size for walleye; stock tiger muskies to reduce population of juvenile sport fish
  • explore the possibility of establishing a catch and release area
  • encourage education of resident and visiting fishermen about the zebra mussel
  • work with New England Power Company and its successors to better coordinate water level management with fish spawning
  • adopt a plant and animal community level conservation strategy
  • encourage collection of information on habitat and species and provide education for local conservation and planning commissions, outfitters, and citizens. Within the Macrosite area, discourage use of riprap, impacts on wetlands, gravel mining in the river, and construction of new power boat ramps
  • New Hampshire should provide signage and handicapped access at the state launch and park in Claremont
  • New Hampshire should consider establishing a primitive campsite at Chase Island; identify possible archeological or natural heritage inventory sites and confer with appropriate agencies on siting and management plans

Departments of Agriculture and Forestry should:

  • encourage state legislatures to propose measures to reduce the impact of insurance costs on agriculture and silviculture
  • increase use of best/acceptable management practices for agriculture and forestry, and provide information on sources of funding to help carry them out
  • educate the public about the value of locally-produced foodstuff
  • discourage logging on steep slopes near the river
  • enforce slash cutting laws on riverbanks
  • encourage small part-time farming as a viable form of agriculture; utilize financial programs, markets, and educational tools
  • educate the public and current and would-be local farmers about the concept of community- supported agriculture ("CSAs")
  • keep agricultural infrastructure strong (seed and equipment dealers; auction houses; slaughterhouses)
  • put farms in direct contact with tourism boards and tour companies; increase awareness of farm tourism
  • ensure hydro-dams release enough water during droughts to support agriculture
  • offer financial incentives for improvements
  • stimulate grower cooperatives
  • New Hampshire expand its agricultural marketing program
  • New Hampshire develop best management practices for irrigation
  • states cooperate more closely in the Connecticut River Valley

Department of Safety Services should:

  • increase enforcement of boating speed laws

Tourism and Recreation agencies should:

  • educate visitors to the region
  • state tourism offices should cooperate more closely for tourism in the river valley
  • Vermont should better maintain the portable toilet facilities at its river access points
  • increase parking facilities at access points
  • provide limited signage at river access points which is aesthetically in keeping with the rural nature of the region
  • improve bicycling safety
  • monitor use and establish more primitive campsites and cartop boat access after checking for presence of archeological resources and rare species

Transportation agencies should:

  • work with state historic preservation offices to establish fund for maintenance of historic bridges, protect stone walls, and expand opportunities for archeological investigations
  • minimize investments in structures such as roads within the flood plain and flowage rights

Historic Resources agencies should:

  • expand opportunities for archeological investigations; consider establishing archeology programs at state universities

TOWNS should:

  • discourage building and any public investment in the flood plain and New England Power flowage rights
  • support the maintenance of natural features along the river; discourage development from affecting the scenic view from the river; discourage construction too close to the river
  • both master plans and regulations should direct the town to carefully consider any irreversible, detrimental use of the corridor's natural and scenic features
  • adopt provisions of the New Hampshire Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act as minimum protection for the river corridor and consider adopting stronger regulations for development in the corridor such as greater setbacks, minimum lot sizes, minimum frontage requirement, height restrictions on building, and cluster development
  • ensure that tax policy encourages agricultural use of land; note that agricultural land costs towns far less than residentially developed land in terms of services such as education, road maintenance, and fire and police protection
  • undertake a Land Evaluation and Site Assessment to map and protect soils of agricultural significance, and incorporate it in their master plans
  • take measures to discourage the loss or conversion of any farm, woodland or open land
  • consider increasing the minimum setbacks for on-site sewage disposal in order to preclude exposure of leach fields by erosion
  • avoid storing salt on their aquifers and adopt ordinance restricting salt use; avoid dumping snow in river
  • discourage wetland impacts
  • interview senior citizens to discover locations of old dumps and underground tanks
  • consider developing a river conservation district and other provisions which protect natural communities and rare species populations along the river
  • consider creating a wetlands overlay district to help address flood control
  • encourage cooperation and local partnerships among private landowners and non-profit organizations which can provide assistance in preserving and maintaining natural communities
  • develop management plans for town-owned conservation areas
  • learn about species of concern within the town
  • encourage landowners and road agents to use vegetative bank stabilization and minimize use of riprap and other "hard" solutions where bank erosion is a problem
  • monitor use and establish more primitive campsites and cartop boat access after checking for presence of archeological resources and rare species
  • Windsor and Plainfield should study appropriate locations for foot and cartop boat access
  • discourage construction of new power boat launches in Macrosite area
  • discourage construction of new marinas on the river
  • discourage littering and vandalism at access points
  • take action to control riverbank dumping where it is a problem; Windsor should take action to clean up dump on its riverbank
  • encourage recycling of industrial sites to relieve development pressure on agricultural lands
  • encourage commercial development in existing locations in downtown areas to help preserve historic land uses and structures
  • adopt sediment and erosion control guidelines
  • avoid commercialization and loss of historic character. Allowing multiple uses in historic structures in their village districts will permit use of such structures to be economically feasible and preserve the traditional center of activity.
  • consider guiding the size and design of signage so that it does not detract from the character of the area
  • discourage the siting of uses which would require the transportation of hazardous materials in the corridor
  • encourage reclamation of gravel pits into uses which are conducive to the objectives stated above
  • advise landowners (through town conservation commissions) on establishment and maintenance of riverside buffers, including tree cutting
  • protect stone walls
  • adhere to provisions of New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Act with respect to dredging, filling, gravel mining, and channel alteration

LANDOWNERS should:

  • retain or create vegetated riverfront buffers to capture nutrients and sediments washing off the land, to help stabilize banks, and to provide privacy and wildlife habitat
  • minimize investment in the flood plain
  • carefully consider any irreversible, detrimental use of the corridor's natural and scenic features
  • learn to recognize species of concern and report occurrences to the state Natural Heritage Inventory program
  • consider working with land trusts to conserve historic agricultural landscapes
  • avoid heavy tree cutting and disposing of slash near the river
  • avoid impacts to wetlands
  • choose vegetative bank stabilization over riprap and other "hard" solutions where bank erosion is a problem
  • set back leaching portions of new septic systems; distance depending upon soil characteristics
  • keep trash and refuse out of the river
  • use caution when applying fertilizer to riverfront land
  • avoid using phosphate, fertilizers, or detergents where they could leach into the river

Farm and Forest Landowners should:

  • use best/ acceptable management practices for agriculture and timber harvesting
  • work with conservation districts and Cooperative Extension Service to prepare total nutrient management plan for their land, to make best use of available nutrients, reduce potential for water quality impacts, economize on fertilizer purchases, and determine where and when biosolid application could benefit the farm operation
  • refrain from storing manure near the river
  • skidder operators and others working in the woods and fields should take care to limit crossing stone walls to a single location if they must be crossed at all

 

BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN THE REGION should:

  • support a multi-community cooperative approach to developing heritage tourism, such as between Bellows Falls, Vermont and Charlestown, New Hampshire
  • support establishment of a Precision Valley Heritage Corridor which would encompass towns which contributed to the history of precision manufacturing and the machine tool industry (Springfield, Windsor, and Claremont)
  • support development of eco-tourism in the region
  • assist with appropriate literature for visitors interested in natural history
  • support Vermont Film Council
  • help to educate visitors in visitor etiquette

New England Power Company and its successors should:

  • continue to be aware of its stewardship role under its existing license
  • provide limited signage at its river access points, especially Herrick's Cove; signage should be aesthetically in keeping with the rural nature of the region
  • provide more detailed signage at Sumner Falls indicating the level of skill needed to safely negotiate the rapids
  • avoid using sirens to warn of rising water levels; this detracts from the character of the area and will disturb area residents
  • work with CRJC and other organizations to improve enforcement of boat speed laws to diminish bank erosion
  • discontinue its informal policy of keeping water levels higher during weekends, when boat wakes are likely to create or worsen bank erosion by attacking more vulnerable parts of the riverbank

CONNECTICUT RIVER JOINT COMMISSIONS should:

  • facilitate agreement with Vermont water users in conjunction with instream flow rules and New Hampshire water user registration
  • work with New England Power Company and its successors, and other organizations to improve enforcement of boat speed laws to diminish bank erosion

UPPER VALLEY LAND TRUST should:

  • monitor use of campsites, particularly on potentially sensitive islands; if high camping pressure is noted on Burnap's and other islands, work with New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to consider establishing another campsite on Chase Island
  • add signage to canoe campsites to show distance to next site to avoid overuse and discourage emergency camping at locations of fragile habitat
  • before establishing new canoe campsites, identify possible archeological or natural heritage inventory sites and confer with state agencies on siting and management plans

REGIONAL PLANNING COMMISSIONS should:

  • assemble information on sites and features of significance in each town, in conjunction with Scenic Byway Study, and provide this information to local historical societies and town officials

HISTORICAL SOCIETIES should:

  • educate their fellow citizens about local history and how it relates to the Connecticut River; consider writing histories of their town, publishing walking tour guides, and conducting oral history interviews
  • review the inventory of cultural resources under development by CRJC

CITIZENS should:

  • obey existing boat speed laws
  • avoid littering
  • participate in volunteer cleanups
  • refrain from waterskiing north of Ascutney bridge
  • support public expenditures to protect habitat along the river
  • support Family Forest Lands legislation
  • support small local dairy processing plant in Plainfield and other local agriculture
  • support local historical societies, sites, museums, and organizations working to preserve historic buildings and retain the vitality of these centers
  • participate in Scenic Byway Study to be certain that it is responsive to their area's interests and concerns and provides their towns with the information they will find most useful; work with regional planning commissions

-- developed by the Mount Ascutney Region River Subcommittee, 1993-1996, first published 1997