In Concord, Kuster Joins NH Conservation Partners To Highlight $6.8 Million Federal Grant To Improve Merrimack River Watershed
**Later in the day, Kuster visited the Warner Public Market and discussed efforts to build a more resilient food supply system**
Concord, June 8, 2021
**A full-resolution version of this photo is available HERE**
Concord, N.H. — Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry, visited a site along the Merrimack River to discuss a recently awarded $6.8 million USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service grant to protect source water, revitalize wildlife habitats, and boost climate resilience within the Merrimack River watershed.
In April, the Merrimack River Watershed Council received $6,857,745 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The funding will enable a multi-year, landscape-scale project to conserve and protect source water areas along the Merrimack River watershed, revitalize habitats for vulnerable fish and wildlife species and boost climate resilience. The Merrimack River serves as a drinking water source for over 600,000 people across New Hampshire and Massachusetts and is one of the most at-risk watersheds in the nation for the development of land and threats to water quality, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“The Merrimack River is a treasure for New Hampshire – not just for its scenic beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities, but more importantly for its drinking water supply for our communities and its ecological importance for wildlife,” said Rep. Kuster. “It’s critical we invest in the protection of our lands and forests, and this federal grant will enable our conservation partners to do just that. I look forward to amplifying this success story of public and private investment in drinking water source protection, wildlife habitat, and climate resiliency.”
“We are proud to bring together such a wide range of thought leaders, technical experts, and funders and to make a real impact on the lives of people, fish and wildlife in our state,” said Matthew Thorne, Executive Director at the Merrimack River Watershed Council. “These investments will get boots on the ground to actualize the type of nature-based ‘green infrastructure’ that keeps our water clean, our climate stable, and our habitat thriving.”
“We are looking forward to working with Source Water Protection Partnership and landowners to permanently protect working agricultural lands and forests to improve our water quality,” said Becky Ross, NH State Conservationist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. “These projects will also enhance and protect wildlife habitats as well as help our landowners to install conservation practices to enhance their operation’s resilience to climate change.”
“The critical importance of protecting the Merrimack River watershed has been recognized since the U.S. Forest Service identified it over 10 years ago as one of the most threatened watershed in the nation,” said Jack Savage, President of the Society for the Protection of NH Forests. “Together with our partners, the Forest Society has made its protection one of our top priorities. The most cost-effective way to ensure we have clean drinking water is to protect the forested landscape in the watershed. The RCPP grant represents an important step to accomplish this mission. I want to thank Rep. Kuster for not just highlighting this grant but for underscoring why we all must protect this vitally important watershed.”
“In New Hampshire, meaningful conservation gets done through effective partnerships,” said Jim O’Brien, Director of External Affairs for The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire. “That is why we are so excited by this opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our state and federal partners to protect and restore the lands and waters that benefit our communities, strengthen our economy and sustain the natural resources that define the Granite State.“
Rep. Kuster has been a consistent advocate for New Hampshire’s conservation community, farmers, and producers, bringing the voices of Granite Staters to Congress. Through her work on the House Agriculture Committee, Kuster has supported funding for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, including a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill to provide $200 million in mandatory funding for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.