Watershed Projects Receive Grants

Thetford — The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation recently awarded $807,313 in grants to 14 projects across the upper Connecticut River watershed.

It was the 11th round of grants awarded from the foundation’s Upper Connecticut River Mitigation and Enhancement Fund. The fund is expected to provide about $21 million to support restoration, protection and enhancement of the river, wetlands and shore lands within the watershed upstream of White River Junction over a 15-year period.

“Serving as stewards for this fund is an important responsibility,” Foundation President and CEO Richard Ober said in a news release last week. “The Connecticut River is a critical resource for the region, and this fund helps to advance the important work of sustaining the river for future generations.”

The fund was originally created as part of the settlement agreement between the parties involved in the federal process to award a new operating license for three hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River at Fifteen Mile Falls near Littleton, N.H., and Ryegate, Vt.

The agreement, signed in 1997, involved a collaborative process in which representatives of state and federal agencies, environmental organizations, the local community, and the dams’ owner worked to accomplish a settlement to define the new license for Fifteen Mile Falls. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a new license to operate the dams in April 2002. Under the agreement, dam owner/operator TransCanada Hydro Northeast contributed a portion of the annual profits from dam operations to the fund.

The most recent round of awards included the following local projects:

Connecticut River Watershed Council received a two-year grant of $154,027 to restore aquatic and terrestrial habitat along Connecticut River tributaries, including Eastman Brook, Oliverian Brook and the Wells River.

Upper Valley Land Trust was awarded a $10,000 grant to support permanent protection of a town-owned parcel along the Ompompanoosuc River in Thetford.

Vermont Land Trust received four grants to support land-conservation projects along the Connecticut River, including $70,000 to support a permanent conservation easement in Newbury, Vt., protecting 1,660 feet of river frontage.

Projects in Pittsburg, N.H., Columbia, N.H., Canaan, Vt., Maidstone, Vt., and Lemington, Vt., were also funded. The recipients were selected by an advisory committee that includes representatives of environmental organizations, state and federal agencies, local community groups, and TransCanada Hydro Northeast.

The foundation serves communities throughout New Hampshire, southeastern Maine and eastern Vermont. For more information, contact New Hampshire Charitable Foundation at www.nhcf.org or call 603-225-6641.