The Ashuelot River
And it’s management plan
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First: A Background on the river
Then: Discuss management plan
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The headwaters of the
Ashuelot are at an
elevation of 1,600 feet
Remnants of past glacial
activity (varved
deposits, and glacial
lake Ashuelot)
Many high potentaial
Aquifers in river
The river valley was first inhabited by
Squakhag indians.
Pioneers settled the river in the 1700’s
During the Industrial Revolution, the river was
major source of power and food for the region,
evidenced by the mills still visible today on the
Wildlife Resources
Migratory path for raptors, songbirds, and
The river corridor provides feeding areas for
bald eagles
Habitat for the northern harrier, a state
threatened bird
Blue heron, common loon, common
nighthawk, and blue grey gnatcatcher are also
found along the river.
Plant Resources
The state listed endangered, sensitive senna
and spiked needlegrass are found in the river
The river corridor supports two ecologically
significant natural communities: Northern New
England seepage marsh and Southern New
England circumneutral talus forest/woodland
The ponded sections of
the river are enjoyed by
owners of small
watercraft and
The whitewater sections
accommodate kayakers
and canoeists
Rapids varying from
class II to class V
Annual canoe race in
the upper Ashuelot
every spring
Ashuelot Pond supports small and large
mouth bass, pickerel, horned pout, and yellow
The river's upper reaches with cold, fast
moving water provide good habitat for
rainbow and brown trout
Walleye, bass, bullheads, and perch are the
main catch at the river's confluence with the
Connecticut River
The Ashuelot Management Plan
Mission Statement
The river and it’s corridor continue to experience pressure for
increased development, recreation and other uses of its natural
and cultural resources. This trend will likely continue in the
future. It is essential to have a management approach that
ensures a balance between protection of legitimate community
interests and the rights of property owners along the river, in
order to protect and improve the existing resource values of
the River and its corridor.
The Ashuelot River Corridor Management Plan proposes a
management approach with the mission of protecting plentiful
clean water, thriving riparian and aquatic habitat for wild
plants and animals, providing balance for continued
development of land use and water uses, recreation, and other
public needs.
Some General Information about
the Plan
The plan was developed by the Local River
Advisory Committee (LAC) that also reviews
environmental permits within the corridor
Definition of river corridor is the river and a
quarter mile on each side or the 100 year
floodplain, whichever is further.
The LAC recognizes that the river and it’s
riparian lands are valued by the communities
for many different reasons
The LAC prepared this plan to protect
the river and riparian land for
ecological and social values
Ecological values
include biological
diversity and unique
plant and animal habitat
Social values include
recreation, scenic areas,
aquifers for drinking
water supply, flood
water storage, river
impoundments for
hydropower, and
developable land area
Purposes of Management Plan
Document the condition of the river and
Document the conditions and trends of
resource use within the corridor
Identify threats to the quality of those
Identify conflicts of resource protection and
Present recommendations to the communites
The upper reaches of the
Most of this upper reach is
rural, development
intensifies near Gilsum
Timber harvest and sand and
gravel mining are common
activities and are sources for
Goals include enhancement
of water quality,
preservation of wild plant
and animal habitat, soil and
other resource conservation
Protection of historic sites
The upper reahes2
Water Quality is good, however, threats do
Protection of the riparian buffer, use of BMPs
to prevent soil erosion, stormwater
management, and monitoring of septic systems
are important safeguards to water quality
The upper reaches3
A land conservation strategy is required in
order to provide habitat for indegenous plants
and animals, however, it is complicated by the
private pattern of land ownership.
This might be accomplished by bringing
together town governments, conservation
commissions, sport fishing clubs and other
conservation organizations.
The upper reaches4
Public access to undeveloped land and to the
river itself is a valuable amenity in the upper
Ashuelot corridor
Public education about land stewardship,
responsible behavior in the outdoors on public
or private land, and places where access is
permitted is essential to ensuring continued
access to public and private lands
Gilsum to Keene
This 14.5 mile stretch of
the river transitions
from a high energy
stream to a meandering
Similarly, management
issues transition from
resource extraction to
threats of pollution and
lack of riparian buffers
Gilsum to Keene2
Water quality is considered to be good,
however, road salts and herbicides from golf
courses represent significant concerns.
Public access is also a concern for this region,
most private lands are not posted as no
Public education to build awareness of
responsibilities and building public access
areas are suggested
Gilsum to Keene3
Suburbanization and the Bretwood golf course
have eliminated much of the trees and shrubs
from the river banks
River bank deforestation has the effects of
riparian and instream habitat destruction and
loss of floodwater moderation
Private landowners are encouraged to plant
and manage the stream.
Gilsum to Keene4
The rise of suburban development and increased
density of the road network and other paved areas
increases the impact of non-point source pollution in
this reach
Gasoline and other petrochemicals spilled from motor
vehicles, particles of metal and other chemicals on
roadways and parking lots, and the use of fertilizers
and other chemicals for suburban lawn care endanger
water quality and aquatic habitats
Public education about management impacts and
riparian zones is recommended
This four-mile Community segment is unique in the
corridor for the intensity of urban development on its
river banks
Issues here include high percentage of impervious
cover, conveyance of runoff via storm sewers,
industrial contamination sites, dense street and
highway network, and dense development
Water is collected and channeled to the Ashuelot by
pavement, rooftops, drains, ditches, culverts, and
walled/diked stream channels to move as much water
away from development as fast as possible and
maximize the amount of land available for
The negative effects of this include increased flood
hazard, as well as, increased erosion.
There are several areas in the City where former
municipal or industry practices and accidents left
extensive soil contamination
Known contamination sites include underground
gasoline spills, abandoned back lot industrial waste
dumps, and former municipal dumps
Political will to expose and eliminate these problems
must be developed locally and at the state level.
The River has recently enjoyed a renewed
appreciation as a city asset
During the last two decades the River in Keene
has become a stream of cleaner water bordered
by park land and natural areas
A typical paradox has developed concurrently:
increased popularity and appreciation of
natural areas can lead to destruction of the
various attributes
Keene to Winchester
Mostly a rural segment
Canoeing and kayaking
are popular in this reach
High nutrient and
sediment load from
Keene to Winchester2
The main problem in this segment is that the
river channel is filling with sediment,due to the
low gradient and high sediment load
Effects of this situation are several: disruption
of ecology of the River water, River bed, and
floodplain; reduction in volume of the river
channel; and accumulation of pollutants in
River bed sediments.
Winchester to Hinsdale
The River bank throughout these last two-and-a-halfmiles has a variety of land cover types: upland forest;
floodplain forest; impervious surfaces of buildings,
pavement, and retaining walls; or rural residential
development with lawns, roadsides, and pasture
The corridor in the vicinity of the confluence hosts a
variety of riparian, floodplain, and wetland habitats
for plants and animals, including waterfowl (raptors,
bald eagles, and peregrine falcons)
Winchester to Hinsdale2
Connection of the homes upstream in Ashuelot to the
Hinsdale waste water treatment plant and the
installation of the Hinsdale waste water plant are part
of the recent restoration of water quality in this part
of the River to Class B
Water quality improvements to the Connecticut and
Ashuelot Rivers make possible sport fishing at the
confluence where fish species include walleye,
northern pike, small mouth bass, and large mouth