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Public meeting set for March 20 in Peterborough: Corps, public to discuss Edward MacDowell Lake area master plan, project operations, land management

Published Feb. 20, 2019

CONCORD, Mass. – A public meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 in Peterborough, New Hampshire, to discuss updating the master plan for project operations and federal land management of the Edward MacDowell Lake flood risk management project in Peterborough, New Hampshire, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials. The public will have an opportunity to provide comments on the draft master plan at the public meeting or submit their comments to the Corps.


The Corps has initiated the process to update the Edward MacDowell Lake master plan, a document that conceptually establishes and guides the orderly development, administration, maintenance, preservation, enhancement and management of all natural, cultural and recreational resources at Edward MacDowell Lake. It is a land use management document and does not include any operations associated with facilities such as the dam or spillway. The updated master plan will present an inventory and assessment of the land and water resources and related physical improvement.


The Edward MacDowell Lake master plan was last updated in 1979. Public input is critical in the master plan update. This master plan will address land use pressure, along with the increased demand for outdoor recreation and shifting interest in more and varied types of outdoor experiences. The classification system and guidelines set forth are designed to guide the preservation, management and use of public lands in the future.


Situated on Nubanusit Brook in Peterborough and about 14 miles east of Keene, Edward Macdowell Lake Dam was completed in 1950 at a cost of $2 million. It consists of an earth fill dam with stone slope protection 1,100 feet long and 67 feet high with a capacity of storing more than four billion gallons of water. There is a conservation pool at Edward MacDowell Lake covering 165 acres and having a maximum depth of about seven feet. The flood storage area at spillway crest totals 840 acres and covers parts of Hancock, Dublin and Harrisville. The lake and all associated project lands cover 1,469 acres.


The master plan covers approximately 1,469 acres of federal land and prescribes an overall land and water management plan, resource objectives, and associated design and management concepts which provide the best possible combination of responses to regional needs, resource capabilities, and public interests consistent with authorized flood risk management purposes.


Edward MacDowell Lake dam provides flood risk management and flood reduction primarily to Peterborough. The project also provides flood reduction to downstream communities of Hancock, Bennington, Antrim, Deering, Hillsboro and Henniker, all on the Contoocook River.


The Corps operates a small recreation area and amenities include two pavilions, multiple picnic and grill locations, beach, volleyball net, horseshoe pits and playground. Canoes, rowboats and other small boats are permitted. Project lands also offer trails for hiking and cross country skiing; snowmobile trails; undeveloped open space for ball playing and other sporting activities; drinking water; and sanitary facilities. More than 146,000 visitors annually enjoy recreational opportunities at Edward MacDowell Lake.  


The master plan covers all project resources, including fish and wildlife, vegetation, cultural, aesthetic, interpretive, recreational, commercial and outgranted lands, easements and water. The public notice informing the public of the Corps intent to update the master plan will be posted on the website. The Corps has been working with the public and other stakeholders to develop the draft master plan that is now available for review and comment.


A public meeting to discuss the master plan will be held on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 from 6-8 p.m. in the Peterborough Town Hall on Grove Street in Peterborough, New Hampshire.


The master plan provides guidance for future management of the project and surrounding federal lands. The natural resources of the project will continue to be managed to provide the best combination of responses to regional and ecosystem needs, project resources and capabilities. All specific proposals for recreational or other development at the project must comply with the master plan, the Edward MacDowell Lake flood risk management reduction requirements, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and federal and Corps requirements


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is preparing a draft Environmental Assessment for the master plan under NEPA. Interested parties may request a copy from the address listed below.


Public comments on the Edward MacDowell Lake Project master plan should be submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Edward MacDowell Lake Project, (Attn: Project Manager Jason Tremblay), 75 Wilder Street, Peterborough, NH 03458 or by email to jason.c.tremblay@usace.army.mil. For up-to-date information, call (603) 924-3431 or visit the project web site at www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/EdwardMacDowellLake.aspx.


Tim Dugan

Release no. 19-014