Piscataquog draws conservation interest

LYNDEBOROUGH – The headwaters of the Piscataquog River in Lyndeborough, Francestown and Greenfield include large blocks of undeveloped land, some unusual topography and some endangered species.

Gordon Russell of New Boston, a member of the Piscataquog Watershed Association, met with the Conservation Commission and a few residents Thursday to discuss its potential preservation.

He spoke about “sub-watersheds,” which are the smaller brooks that form the headwaters of the south branch of the river.

The South Branch of the Piscataquog River flows through New Boston into Goffstown. The Piscataquog eventually joins the Merrimack River in Manchester.

The Cold Brook watershed is almost wholly in North Lyndeborough. Rand Brook is in Lyndeborough and Francestown, while Brennan Brook is mostly in Greenfield. The brooks drain the sides of Crotched, Rose and Piscataquog mountains, an area of about 13,000 acres.

Russell said his investigations in Lyndeborough disclosed an unnamed small brook he has chosen to call “Scataguog Brook,” the local name of the mountain it drains.

“We found very cold water (in that brook),” Russell said, “and fish that shouldn’t be there, like the slimy sculpin and brook trout, and some unusual kinds of caddis fly. The Fish and Game Department is very interested, as is the Department of Environmental Services.”

The little brook is in the area currently being operated by Granite State Sand and Gravel, he said, and he plans to discuss the area with company officials.

He noted that one area in Lyndeborough contains some “very unusual drumlins,” which are sand or gravel formations of glacial drift.

Russell said the watershed association is working with the Francestown Land Trust on the eastern side of the area, and with the Monadnock Conservancy on the Greenfield side. It was suggested that he also contact the new Lyndeborough Land Preservation Trust, which is active in north Lyndeborough.

Russell stressed the need to join the parcels already under conservation easement to provide connected wildlife corridors. He agreed that easements cost money and added, “PWA has funds to pay the legal fees for easements.”

A fact sheet provided by The Headwaters Project includes the natural resource inventory of the area. Investigators found a variety of habitats including cliffs and ledges, varied wetlands and forest types.

Evidence was found of deer, moose, bear, bobcat, fisher, mink, otter and a number of turtles and other amphibians. The water quality was termed “excellent” based on the presence of pollution-sensitive aquatic insects, and the presence of sculpin, a fish found only in high quality, very cold water. Both adult and young brook trout were also found.

A blue heron rookery was located, as well as nesting and migration stopovers for several varieties of hawks and waterfowl.

The forest surrounding the brooks is essential to preserving the water quality and its temperature, Russell said. So far, he added, 22 percent of the area is under protection, most through conservation easements.

At the close of the meeting, resident Bob Rogers announced that he is placing an easement on his property near Cold Brook and Senter’s Falls. A survey is being done to determine the exact boundaries, he said, which are unclear from old deeds.