Five decades ago, the Merrimack River and its tributaries were among the most polluted waterways in the nation.  Afflicted by human and industrial waste and toxic chemicals, they showed every sign of a failing ecosystem.  By 1976, people here had had just about enough.  That was the year that local activists and regional planning commissions got together to form the Merrimack River Watershed Council, which got local residents pushing hard to clean up the river.  Incorporated in 1978, MRWC became a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit the following year.  These days, the river is a whole lot nicer–but still faces challenges.  Sewage releases.  Polluted runoff.  Inappropriate development.  Closed beaches.  Lack of recreational opportunities.  Forty years on, there’s still a lot to do.  Fortunately, we’re still at it.

Our mission is quite simple:

To protect, improve and conserve the Merrimack River watershed for people and wildlife through education, recreation, advocacy and science.

River restoration and protection continues today…

In the Merrimack River Valley almost 200 years ago, this nation’s Industrial Revolution was born.  Now, in the 21st century, a new revolution–this one focused on sustainability–is blossoming across the Merrimack basin.  Once one of the 10 most polluted rivers in the country, the Merrimack is in much better shape today.  But it continues to face challenges.  One of the primary threats is the accelerating loss of forested land along the river’s edge.  In fact, in 2010, the US Forest Service identified the Merrimack as the most threatened river in the country in terms of loss of privately owned forested land due to housing pressures, the fourth most threatened for associated impacts to water quality, and seventh for loss of species-at-risk.

Why does it matter?  It matters for many reasons, ones that are vital to people and wildlife.  For starters, nearly 600,000 people depend on the river as a source of drinking water, and that number is growing.

Won’t you join us by supporting the Merrimack River Watershed Council’s more than four decades of dedication to the Merrimack River and its large watershed?  Opportunities for involvement abound.  For example, you can become a member, adopt a “Merrimack Mile,” participate in a riverbank cleanup, take part in a summer festival or kayaking adventure, or join our new Advocacy and Policy Advisory Committee.   Whatever you do to help out, the river will thank you for it–and so will we.

Logo design by Ken Tango