Connecticut River Shoreline
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The Connecticut River is one of the most significant natural, scenic and recreational resources in Hanover. Yet public access to the Connecticut River in the Town of Hanover is limited to a few areas:
- the boat landing at the municipal wastewater treatment plant (which is not widely used due to odors associated with this facility and excessive plant growth in the river)
- around the mouth of the Mink Brook, where public action and private donation in an earlier generation led to the acquisition of significant conservation land. (A sewer interceptor line provides, as an added bonus, a popular walking trail from South Main Street to the confluence of Mink Brook and the Connecticut River)
- at the Dartmouth boat house and canoe club area north of Ledyard Bridge where swimming off the College's float is possible for the Dartmouth community in the summer, and rental of kayaks and canoes is available to the public
- Wilson's Landing, north of Fullington Farm, which provides public access for boating and fishing and
- walking trails that are in various conditions and states of use along portions of the Connecticut River shoreline
(Photos in print edition) The river belongs to everyone.
Segments of a shoreline path exist on land already owned by the town, the Pine Park Association, Dartmouth College and private landowners. The choice of location for any new or relocated shoreline path should consider the fragile nature of the riverbank and shoreline. It should also consider the adverse influence that the path may have on wildlife, e.g. providing public access to sensitive bird nesting and breeding sites, beaver lodges, otter denning places, etc. For these reasons, and because in many areas houses are located close to the river, alignments away from the shore may be more realistic choices for a river trail. Connections could be made to the Mink Brook corridor, the Appalachian Trail, Balch Hill (through Storrs Pond, the Ferguson and Rinker Tracts, and the Fulllington Farm Trails), the Slade Brook Corridor, and the Lyme Connection. Views of the wooded ridgelines along the Connecticut River are a memorable part of a trip down the river. Whenever possible, ridgelines such as that of Pinneo Hill, should remain forested to preserve the views from the river. There are a few islands in the Connecticut River within the Town of Hanover. The largest of these, Gilman Island is near the mouth of Mink Brook. A "primitive camp site" is located on it. Protection of all of the islands by easement or purchase would ensure their scenic and recreational future.
Open Space Benefits
- Water Supply - Continued protection of the river from the adverse effects of nonpoint source pollution and development - such as lawn chemicals, untreated storm water, increased impervious area, and industrial discharge- should be an important public priority since the river represents an important potential water supply for the Town of Hanover.
- Surface Water - The Connecticut River is one of the designated American Heritage Rivers with excellent water quality.
- Wetlands - There are several areas of riverine and submergent wetlands along the shoreline, where waterfowl are observed and where "nursery" conditions and food are available for many aquatic species. (Photos in print edition) River and wetlands encourage biodiversity.
- Wildlife Habitat - At various times of the year numerous species of waterfowl are found on the river. Non-game small mammals such as beaver and otter that need continuous access to water abound along the river.
- Biodiversity - The critical element needed to ensure ecological diversity in our natural communities is water. Where water is present - such as shorelines, floodplains, wetlands, vernal pools, etc. - species are diverse. "Expanding current protected land, and managing for fish and wildlife habitat with conservation easements along riverbanks is a high priority to increase habitat and the likelihood of rare species establishment." (Natural Communities and Rare Plants of Hanover, New Hampshire, 1999) In addition, a particularly special unusual habitat is located in the valley along the Class VI portion of Piper Lane. In order to protect this rich mesic forest valley, the land cover should be undisturbed ridgeline to ridgeline.
- Productive Soils - The flat lands along the Connecticut River represent some of the most productive agricultural soils in the northeastern U.S. However, in Hanover much of this soil already has been encroached upon.
- Recreation - The Connecticut River shoreline is potentially a magnificent corridor for walking, bird watching, and Nordic skiing, among other pursuits. The river itself provides unique boating and swimming opportunities.
- Connections and Buffers - The shoreline of the Connecticut River is a critical buffer to the river and its wildlife. Segments could also serve as a path for people, if trails were established linking the downtown with other open space areas - the Rinker and Ferguson tracts, Storrs Pond, Oak Hill, Balch Hill and the Appalachian Trail, the Tanzi Tract and the Mink Brook Preserve. Class VI Roads - There are no Class VI roads along the river's shoreline or that connect to it.
- Scenic Assets - The river shoreline features a variety of natural terrain - steep banks, rare floodplain forests (Pine Park), eskers, meandering tributaries, riverine wetlands - that are not found elsewhere in Hanover. Views of the river from Route 10 are important.
- Historic Sites and Cultural Landscapes - Hanover developed as a town because of its location on the Connecticut River, the growth of Dartmouth College, and the presence of a narrow crossing suitable for a rope ferry. Along tributaries of the river, power was available for mills. Prosperity for early settlers of the Upper Valley was a function of access to water transportation, productive soils and favorable terrain along the floodplains of the Connecticut River. Hanover had them all.
- Education - Greater public access along the shoreline of the river could provide an outdoor classroom for teaching the importance of environmental protection and open space conservation.