New Hampshire's Fish Habitat Program

Contact: John Magee, Fish Habitat Biologist, 603-271-2744, john.a.magee@wildlife.nh.gov

Warren Brook
Part of a restored section of Warren Brook, Alstead, NH.
Stonehouse Pond
Brook trout at a spawning site in Stonehouse Pond. The surrounding lands were conserved in part with Fisheries Habitat Account funds, Barrington, NH.
Nash Stream
Porous rock weirs and addition of large trees in Nash Stream, Stratford, NH.

The NH Fish Habitat Program came into existence in 2000, when RSA 214:1-g was enacted by the NH Legislature. This law created the Fisheries Habitat Account, which is funded by a $1 fee on each fishing license sold in New Hampshire. The fund can be used for certain activities, generally on-the-ground fish habitat improvement/restoration projects and land conservation.

By law, the NH Fish and Game Department must submit an Annual Report to the New Hampshire Legislature an on activities related to the account you can find those annual reports here.

The goal of Fish and Game’s Fish Habitat Program is to protect, restore, and enhance New Hampshire's fisheries habitats, using a watershed approach, so that viable fish communities can be supported for their intrinsic value and long-term benefits to the public. Fish and Game works in partnership with other state and federal natural resource agencies, regional planning commissions, town governments, non-government organizations, and landowners to accomplish this goal.

Common themes in fish habitat work

  • Fish are adapted to natural processes, so the best way to restore/enhance habitat and fish populations is to restore these processes.
  • Focus on watersheds as much as possible.
  • It typically costs much less and is longer-lasting to let nature do most of the work.

Strategies

  • Protect watersheds and riparian habitats through land purchases and/or conservation easements.
  • Remove non-functional dams and other man-made barriers on rivers and streams to restore connectivity of fish habitats.
  • Use the concepts of fluvial geomorphology and natural channel design for restoring/enhancing streams and rivers.
  • Provide technical assistance to landowners, partnering organizations and the Public regarding fish habitat and water quality protection and improvement.
  • Conduct research on how fish use their habitat, and use this information to guide the program's activities.
  • Educate the public about protecting and restoring habitat through presentations, brochures, and other media.

Through the end of 2011, the Fish and Game Department has used the funds for on-the-ground restorations, land conservation projects (to purchase conservation easements), and hiring seasonal employees to collect the necessary information to inform us where and what to do to produce the biggest angling benefit for the angling dollar. Below are descriptions of specific projects we have done. Fisheries Habitat Account funds were used for most, but not all, of these projects. Check this page in 2012 for details and photographs of some completed and ongoing projects.

Past (Completed) Projects

  • Assessment of stream habitat in various watersheds including the Bearcamp, Cold, Connecticut, Sugar, and Dead Diamond rivers.
  • Dam removal projects include the West Henniker Dam on the Contoocook River; Winnicut River Dam on the Winnicut River; the McGoldrick, Winchester and Homestead Woolen Mills dams on the Ashuelot River; a small head-of-tide dam on the Bellamy River; the Merrimack Village Dam on the Souhegan River; Bunker Hill Dam on the Lamprey River; and the Bearcamp River II dam on the Bearcamp River.
  • Dredging of Archery Pond in Bear Brook State Park in order to restore deep-water habitat for trout.
  • Lake Horace Marsh Restoration Project, Weare.
  • Two stream restoration projects on Warren Brook, a tributary to the Cold River, in Alstead after the devastating flood of October 2005.
  • Pemigewasset River Restoration Project in Woodstock.
  • Mohawk River Restoration Project, Colebrook.
  • Land conservation projects: Stonehouse Pond, Barrington; Washburn Forest, Pittsburg; two properties along the Mad River in Farmington.

Current and Future Projects

  • Restoration of instream and riparian habitat and connectivity with the tributaries in the Nash Stream and Indian Stream Watersheds located in Coos County.
  • Restoration of instream wood to several streams in Carroll County (a project with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service and Tin Mountain Conservation Center).
  • Fish habitat enhancement in Harrisville Pond, Harrisville.
  • Restoration of fish habitat and water quality in McQuesten Brook, Manchester.
  • Dam removals: two dams on the Souhegan River in Milford; Exeter Great Dam on the Exeter River.
  • Provide technical information to landowners, partnering organizations and the public regarding the protection and improvement of fish habitat and water quality.

About Us
 
NH Fish and Game Dept.
11 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03301

603-271-3421
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