Conservation Commission

The Harrisville Conservation Commission is dedicated to identifying and preserving areas of vital natural and cultural resources in our community. If you are interested in local conservation and prevention, consider attending our meetings, which are held the first Wednesday of each month.

Opportunities in 2021
Free webinars from NH Lakes –

Wednesday, August 11, 5:00 pm –
Free virtual workshop sponsored by The Cheshire County Conservation District on the subject of Rain Gardens. Share the invite with anyone interested in protecting our water quality and learning about rain gardens and stormwater management strategies.

Spring 2021 projects:
Salamander Brigade Crossing – Join us in an online training, led by the Harris Center, on Thursday, March 18, and volunteer to assist with the spring crossing of these amphibians. Click here for more information. Spring 2021 Salamander Brigade Training

Earth Day Roadside Cleanup – In conjunction with Earth Day, the HCC embarks on its spring roadside cleanup effort. Join us and other volunteers on Saturday, April 24. Details coming.

Current and past projects include:

  • Protecting Wetlands – Mother Nature’s Gift to Us  –

    Harrisville’s Planning Board and Conservation Commission are collaborating on reasonable rules to protect our natural wetlands and preserve these scenic areas for our children and the future residents of our great town.

    • Conservation is all about balance. In the case of towns like Harrisville, rich with forests, waters and all the plant and animal life they support, balance means guiding development toward areas where the impacts of our buildings, yards, roads and growth in general will have minimal impacts on the nature around us.
    • Wetlands are one of our most critical and sensitive natural resources. These rich ecological areas perform vital functions in nature. Without them, small amphibians like tree peepers, frogs and salamanders that breed in wetlands and sit at the base of the forest food chain would slowly disappear. As a primary source of food for larger forest mammals, birds, and fish, the woods would grow silent and empty. And since insects are their primary source of food, insects would go uncontrolled leading to new scourges in our yards and woods.
    • Wetlands do more than provide food sources – they are major parts of nature’s cleanup machine, absorbing and reducing pollution, capturing and stabilizing sediments after storm events, and recharging our groundwater aquifers with clean water to drink. Wetlands are Mother Nature’s sponge, holding on to stormwaters until they can soak harmlessly into the ground to reduce downstream flooding, and in dry times yielding back those waters to keep streams and brooks flowing.
    • Fortunately, wetlands are also a challenge for development, so most wetlands are found in large undeveloped tracts of land set aside for conservation and current use. Click on this map to see an enlarged version where you can drill down to view your property. Note that property lines are not all precisely drawn.


  • 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
Les LaMois, Secretary
Kathy Scott, Select Board Representative
Diana Shonk
Ralph Zingaro

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 Town Spring on the south shore of Lake Skatutekee. 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.


Protecting the Skatutakee Spring

Harrisville_Town_Spring_colThe Skatutakee Spring is a local treasure. Many local folks rely on the spring as a source of fresh drinking water. It produces nearly 200 gallons-per-minute of clear, fresh water, and apparently has done so for the past 150 years. The current spring output on Skatutakee Road is located at the same site as the water tanks that supplied the railroad steam engines in the 1800’s and early part of this century.

The Conservation Commission is exploring ways to protect the Spring. We commissioned an engineering firm (Nobis Engineering) to provide a detailed map that outlines the aquifer and the vital areas within it that most directly feed the spring’s waters. Click this link to view the map and additional notes about the Spring Aquifer.

We encourage all town residents to protect your valuable groundwater resources from contamination and pollution through proper disposal of all hazardous substances and proper septic system performance.


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.