Conservation Commission

The Harrisville Conservation Commission protects and preserves vital natural resources, including woodlands and wildlife, agricultural land, wetlands, healthy lakes, and native vegetation along roadsides, as well as community access to nature.

Our charter includes:

  • Advising other town boards and committees on environmental risks worthy of attention;
  • Offering public education to help neighbors make reasonable environmental decisions as a community;
  • Conserving land by facilitating conservation easements and providing oversight; and
  • Taking action where feasible to deal with specific environmental problems.

Join the Conservation Commission and work with us! If you have interest in these areas, we’d welcome your leadership as we work together on behalf of the town:

  • Woodland and agricultural management
  • Wildlife preservation whether as an environmentalist, hunter or fisherman
  • Optimizing community growth and development in ways that support future generations as well as our town

The HCC meets at 7:00 pm on the first Wednesday of each month, both in person at town hall and online over zoom. Links to agendas and meetings are posted in the right hand column on

For information contact HCC Chair Harry Wolhandler at 603-852-8026 or

Spring 2023 activities

Save the Dates. Save the Environment!

HCC Salamander Crossing Brigade – Help amphibians safely cross country roads on the first warm, rainy nights in spring (40 degrees or higher, late March / early April) as they return to the vernal pools of their birth. Google “Harris Center Salamander Crossing Brigade” to sign up and watch online trainings.

Earth Day Weekend Roadside Cleanup, Friday 4/21 – Sunday, 4/23 – Take part in this annual event. Everyone can bring your own bags, gather trash as you walk along our beautiful roads and throw it away with your household refuse. Help keep our roadsides pristine for everyone’s enjoyment.

Join the HCC Garden Party at the Harrisville Pond Rain Garden, Saturday, 5/13/2023, 10 amnoon  Friends and family invited to help renew plantings at the Rain Garden, adjacent to the boat ramp. Plants, coffee and donut holes provided! Plant donations (native plants only, please) also welcome. Suggested varieties include: Blue Iris or Blue flag, Cardinal Flower, Lobelia, Beebalm/Wild Bergamot, Aster, Black-eyed Susan, Foxglove, Sweet Fern, Lowbush blueberry, Sweet Joe Pye weed, Spirea/Steeplebush. 


  • Rain Garden at the Harrisville Pond Boat Ramp

    Work is under way and should be completed by early October.

    • The Rain Garden is a project of the Conservation Commission that will protect Harrisville Pond from pollution caused by winter sand and salt, and allow storm runoff waters to soak back into the ground before reaching open water. The garden will be planted with native vegetation that can withstand both wet and dry conditions.
    • The Rain Garden is an educational demonstration project with displays explaining how rain gardens are designed, and steps homeowners can take to improve stormwater retention on their properties. As a result of climate change, Northern New England is projected to have more major, longer-lasting storms. To reduce the severity of future flooding, homeowners can retain rainwater using swales, retention ponds, rain gardens and other solutions described in New Hampshire’s  State Guide to Homeowner Stormwater Management Solutions.
    • If you have native plants to contribute to the garden, please contact the HCC. Thanks also to Wes Tarr and the Town Road Crew for creating this Rain Garden for the town. 



Harry Wolhandler, Chairman
Don Scott, Vice Chairman
Ralph Zingaro
John Sandri
Andrew Maneval, Select Board Representative

Protecting Harrisville’s Important Aquifers

The Harrisville Conservation Commission has been working with a subcommittee of the Harrisville Planning Board to explore ways to protect the town’s three aquifers:

  1. The first is a major stratified drift aquifer located under the east part of town from Eastview to the Peterborough town line.
  2. The second is an overburden aquifer that feeds the Spring on the south shore of Lake Skatutakee. It begins at the top of Beech Hill and flows downhill to the north through a deep bed of gravel. This aquifer covers nearly all the south shore of the lake, with the exception of the western-most portion of the shore.
  3. The third is a small stratified drift aquifer near Chesham.

Proposed Harrisville Aquifer Protection Ordinance 12-22-2014

As the 2013 Harrisville Natural Resource Inventory discovered, Harrisville residents place a high value on clean water in all its forms. This ordinance is recommended to ensure that you, your children and their children will continue to enjoy the wonderful, clean water we have today.


Harrisville’s Natural Resource Inventory 2013

  • NRI-Cover-ImageDuring much of 2012 and 2013 the HCC completed the Town’s first natural resource inventory (NRI) which is available at the Town Hall.
  • Major NRI recommendations have been incorporated into revisions to the Town’s Master Plan and continue to guide efforts to preserve our natural and cultural heritage.
  • Click these links to view the NRI and appendices in PDF formats (or right click and “save target as” to download to your computer):

Natural Resource Inventory Report

Harrisville NRI Report (Appendices 3.4MB) 9-30-2013


Other recent work of the Harrisville Conservation Commission:

  • Attention to the issue of invasive vegetation has resulted in illustrated printed materials and articles in Common Threads describing actions to be taken.For Information about Japanese Knotweed and how it can be managed, click here:  Information for homeowners about stormwater management can be found here:
  • During Old Home Days, the HCC has a table with maps and materials to inform residents of the many natural features of the Town and some of the challenges to those features.
  • The Planning Board in cooperation with the HCC undertook revisions of Article IX the Lakeside Residential District and XV on the Shoreland Overlay Ordinance. These were adopted at the Town Meeting in 2014.
  • Roadside Clean-up has been an annual activity of the HCC with the full cooperation of many Town residents.
  • VLAP testing was facilitated by the offer of the HCC to pay for the testing for those lakes with no lake association.


View the Harrisville Conservation Commission’s monthly minutes for more detail on recent and past activities.


The Harrisville Conservation Commission is based on NH statutes…..

36-A:2 Conservation Commission. – A city or town which accepts the provisions of this chapter may establish a conservation commission, hereinafter called the commission, for the proper utilization and protection of the natural resources and for the protection of watershed resources of said city or town. Such commission shall conduct researches into its local land and water areas and shall seek to coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes, and may advertise, prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts, plans and pamphlets which in its judgment it deems necessary for its work. It shall keep an index of all open space and natural, aesthetic or ecological areas within the city or town, as the case may be, with the plan of obtaining information pertinent to proper utilization of such areas, including lands owned by the state or lands owned by a town or city. It shall keep an index of all marshlands, swamps and all other wet lands in a like manner, and may recommend to the city council or selectmen or to the department of resources and economic development a program for the protection, development or better utilization of all such areas. It shall keep accurate records of its meetings and actions and shall file an annual report which shall be printed in the annual town or municipal report. The commission may appoint such clerks and other employees or subcommittees as it may from time to time require.