New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program

Souhegan River Nomination


  1. Natural Resources
  1. Managed Resources
  1. Cultural Resources
  1. Recreational Resources
  1. Other Resources
  1. Scenic Resources

Briefly describe any significant scenic focal points along the river including designated viewing areas and scenic vistas and overlooks. Indicate the location of the significant views to and from the river.

Numerous scenic views exist along the Souhegan River many of which involve rapids and riffles. Moving west to east, Route 31 travels along scenic Water Loom Pond and under the High Bridge in the center of Town. In Greenville, the River flows through a series of dams through the center of the Town. Again, many scenic views and vistas are easily viewed from Route 31 and include pastures and agricultural land, the remaining stone abutments of a railroad bridge and a scenic gorge that is permanently protected through a donation of land by the Taft family. Through a 3.2 section along Route 31 in Greenville and Wilton, the corridor is protected by a scenic easement donated to the NH DOT. This section of the corridor is particularly scenic which is enhanced by its proximity to the road corridor. The Horseshoe in Wilton is an area where the River passes through a series of ledges that are steep on one side. A local swimming hole, many Wilton residents learned to swim here. In addition, the River winds its way through downtown Wilton passing under an old railroad bridge behind the buildings lining Main Street. Having recently been admitted into the National Main Street Program, Wilton's focus on the River as an element of the downtown's character is being recognized and built upon. As the River enters Milford along 101, it passes through a series of riffles that are popular with fly fisherman and under the historic Green Bridge. The Souhegan River Trail follows the river along the state owned fish hatchery property and the adjacent Town owned property. Through downtown Milford, the River can be viewed from a number of locations most notably the Swinging Bridge which is located just above a dam providing views of the impoundment and the downstream sections of the River. The majority of the views of the River in Amherst are at bridge crossings as the road network is not as close to the River as it is in other sections of the corridor.

A Souhegan Bend

A similar situation exists in Merrimack since public access to the River is limited to a few places. Of note in Merrimack are Indian Ledges and Wildcat Falls. The Currier land also known as Eighty Acres permanently protects Wildcat Falls in public ownership. A dam and another series of falls near the mouth of the River in Merrimack provide scenic views from Route 3. The connections between the River and the transportation network, and hence the public's access to the River corridor, provides many of the scenic views. A description of the historic bridges and dams in the corridor can be found in the Historic Resources chapter that is attached to this application.

  1. Land Use

Briefly describe the general patterns of current land use in the river corridor. Include location of significant developments within the river corridor including agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial developments, and solid waste management facilities. Also include location of lands used for forest management or which are undeveloped. Identify such features as roads along the river, railroads, bridges, and utility crossings. Describe the type and location of any proposals for major developments within the river corridor.

Land use within the River corridor varies significantly from community to community. Much of the land is undeveloped, particularly in the western communities. This is due in part to the physical constraints of the land, i.e. floodplains, steep slopes, proximity of the road, etc. While the Souhegan River Corridor Management Plan and the Souhegan River Watershed Study, were completed in 1994 and 1995 respectively, land use patterns within the corridor have not changed significantly. Generalized land use for the watershed is depicted on the attached Land Use Map.


East of Daniel Webster Highway, the study corridor is highly developed for industrial and commercial uses. West of D.W. Highway development is predominantly residential with some areas of public ownership, including the Town owned 80 Acres in the area of Wildcat Falls. The Town owns another parcel along the River accessible from Davidson Avenue and the Boy Scouts own a parcel across the River, Camp Whippoorwill. Land use in the far western section of the river corridor is very low density residential and vacant.


Much of the land in Amherst's section of the corridor is vacant and undeveloped. This is somewhat misleading since there are three golf courses in the western section of the study corridor. The dominance of the vacant land use category can also be related to the large expanses of floodplain within the corridor in Amherst. The rest of the study corridor is residential and the Town owns one piece of conservation land with River frontage.


Milford exhibits the greatest diversity in land use within the study corridor, with high density residential, residential, commercial, industrial, institutional and public lands, and vacant land categories represented. The eastern portion of the study corridor, near the Amherst line, is predominantly commercial with a small shopping center and a few restaurants and shops. The Milford Wastewater Treatment plant and Riverside Cemetery are located near the River. Approaching the Milford downtown land uses is mostly residential and multi-family. The Milford downtown is a mixture of commercial and residential/multi-family land use with some small parcels of Town owned land, east of the swinging bridge north of the River, Emerson Park, Elm Street Cemetery and Keyes Field. The next section of the corridor is dominated by commercial development south of the River and residential and vacant land north of the River. The State owns a significant area of land, the Milford fish hatchery, along the Souhegan River near its confluence with Purgatory Brook. The land across the River is used for agriculture, and the development rights to one parcel have been purchased by the State. The western section of the corridor is lightly developed with commercial and residential uses. There are two hazardous waste sites in the corridor in Milford, the Savage Well site and the Fletcher Paint site.


In Wilton, the eastern portion of the study corridor is dominated by residential and commercial/industrial uses, including Souhegan Wood Products, Label Art, the Riverview Mill and the downtown businesses. West of the downtown along Route 101 the principal land use is residential with a few commercial businesses along 101. Along NH Route 31 south the corridor is sparsely developed with only a few residences and the River is close to the road. The NH Department of Transportation holds a scenic easement along a stretch of Route 31 in Wilton and Greenville.


Land use within the study corridor in Greenville is predominantly vacant land in the northern section and residential in the village areas.

New Ipswich

Land use within the study corridor in New Ipswich is chiefly vacant and residential.

  1. Land Use Controls

Identify the municipalities with existing master plans and zoning ordinances within the river corridor. Identify existing or significant proposed land use controls which affect the river and the river corridor (e.g., zoning, easements, subdivision regulations).

According to the Office of State Planning 1997 report, Status of Municipal Planning and Land Use Regulations in New Hampshire, all of the communities in the Souhegan corridor have an adopted Master Plan, a Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision/Site Plan Review Regulations. The following discussion on zoning and land use regulations by community is taken from the 1994Souhegan River Corridor Management Plan. No significant changes to the Zoning Ordinances or the Subdivision/Site Plan Regulations that would have an impact on the River have occurred since the study was completed. Zoning for the watershed is depicted on the Zoning Map for the watershed.


The majority of the study corridor in Merrimack, all of the land west of the Everett Turnpike, is zoned for residential development. Zoning east of the turnpike is commercial and industrial. The uses permitted within each district include:

General or Limited Commercial: limited commercial permits stores for the sale of retail goods or services; business and professional offices; specifically excludes banks, automotive uses of all kinds, hotels and motels; permitted by special exception - restaurants, cafes, residential and accessory uses; general commercial permits stores for the sale of retail goods and services; business, professional and banking offices; research and development; restaurants and cafes; parking lots for transient motor vehicles; hotels and motels; and churches; permitted by special exception - accessory uses, residential, public facilities, sale or storage of new or used cars, commercial recreation and entertainment, and gasoline and automobile service stations.

Industrial: manufacturing industries; warehouse and wholesale uses; offices greater than 10,000 sq. ft.; public utilities; churches; gas stations; enclosed service and repair; sales service and repair of machinery and transportation equipment; freight and trucking terminals, offices and brokers; contractor yards; parking garages; animal hospitals and veterinary clinics; research and testing laboratories; fuel storage and distribution (bulk); printing establishments; contract cleaning establishments; industrial supply establishments; support uses to industrial district - restaurants, branch banks, offices, hotel/motel; and breweries and bottling facilities.

Residential: residential uses; home occupations; permitted by special exception churches and accessory dwelling units.

Minimum lot size in the commercial districts is 20,000 sq. ft. There is no minimum lot size for industrial developments; however, floor area ratios cannot exceed 0.4 for a one story building or 0.8 for a two-story building and buildings must be set back a minimum of 100 feet from D.W. Highway. In addition, all developments in this district must be served by municipal water and sewer. Minimum lot size in the commercial districts is 20,000 sq. ft. with 125 feet of frontage. Floor area ratios are the same as the industrial district. Minimum lot size requirements in the residential district are based on soil type and the presence of municipal water and sewer. Cluster development of one, two or four unit residential structures is allowed in all residential districts with a minimum parcel size of 15 acres and municipal water and sewer. In addition, the Town has adopted a number of regulations to protect its natural resources, such as the floodplain conservation district, the wetland conservation district and the aquifer conservation district. The Town does not have any type of shoreline protection.


The entire study corridor in Amherst is zoned for residential development. Uses permitted in the residential district include: single-family and accessory buildings; planned residential development; home occupations; open space plan; amateur, nonprofit sports and recreation uses; and family daycare uses. Minimum lot size is two acres with 200 ft. of frontage for regular lots and 35 ft. of frontage for reduced frontage lots. The open space plan calls for maintaining the overall density, two acres/unit, but allows for the development of residential units on 40,000 sq. ft. lots to encourage the maintenance of open space. Minimum parcel size for open space plans is ten acres in the residential district. The planned residential development standards allow for the development of different housing types at densities greater than required by the underlying zone. Density is determined by dividing the overall acreage by two and then multiplying that number by a factor which is based on the soil classification. Single-family attached and detached structures, and multi-unit structures with three to six units are permitted in planned residential developments. Minimum tract size for a planned residential development is 20 acres in the residential district. In addition, the Town has adopted a number of regulations to protect its natural resources such as a floodplain conservation district, a wetland conservation district and an aquifer protection district. The watershed protection district essentially is the same as a shoreline protection district.


Land within the Milford section of the study corridor is almost equally divided between commercial, industrial and residential districts. South of the River, the eastern section is zoned commercial and the western section is zoned industrial. Except for a small area near the downtown, all of the land in the corridor north of the River is zoned residential. The uses permitted within each district include:

Commercial: retail and wholesale businesses; restaurants; filling stations, garages and parking lots; professional offices and banks; hospitals and/or medical facilities; schools, colleges, business or trade schools; hotels, motels and inns; churches; theaters and bowling establishments; laundries and dry cleaning; newspaper and job printing; funeral homes; the uses permitted in residence "A" and "B" districts; and elderly housing; permitted by special exception - dumps and junk yards, mobile homes and communication towers.

Industrial: harvesting and processing of natural resources; and light industrial and manufacturing; permitted by special exception - uses permitted in the commercial/business district and residence "R" district except for residential uses.

Integrated Commercial-Industrial: wholesale businesses; retail businesses; restaurants; professional offices and banks; hotels, motels and inns; daycare facilities; public utility uses; light industrial and manufacturing; distribution and mailing facilities; research and development laboratories; automotive service and repair; harvesting of natural resources; permitted by special exception - schools.

Residential District: "A" district: single-family residences and accessory buildings; permitted by special exception home occupations, recreation and community center buildings, kindergartens and day nurseries, churches, and public utilities; "B" district: multi-family with municipal water and sewer; single-family and two-family dwellings; permitted by special exception - hospitals, schools and funeral homes; "R" district: uses permitted in "A" district; hospitals; schools; farm, agriculture or nursery; mobile homes; harvesting of natural resources; and recreational uses; permitted by special exception two-family residences and communication towers.

Minimum lot sizes in the commercial and industrial districts are 20,000 sq. ft./150 ft. of frontage with municipal water and sewer and 60,000 sq. ft./225 ft. frontage without water and sewer. Lot sizes and frontages in the integrated commercial-industrial district are the same as those for the commercial/industrial with water and sewer and 40,000 sq. ft./150 ft. of frontage without water and sewer. Residential minimum lot sizes are as follows: "A" - with water and sewer 15,000 sq. ft./100 ft. frontage, without 40,000 sq. ft./150 ft. frontage; "B" - with water and sewer 20,000 sq. ft./150 ft. frontage, without 60,000 sq. ft./225 ft. frontage; "R" - single-family 40,000 sq. ft./150 ft. frontage; two-family 80,000 sq. ft./225 ft. frontage. Cluster development is permitted in all residential districts with a minimum tract size of 5 acres with water and sewer or 20 acres without. Overall density is the same as would be permitted by the underlying zone and there are no minimum lot size, frontage or setback requirements. In addition, the Town has adopted a number of regulations to protect its natural resources such as a floodplain management district, a wetland protection district and an aquifer protection district. The wetland protection district includes surface waters.


Residential and agricultural, and residential zoning dominates the Wilton section of the study corridor with a strip of commercially zoned land along NH Route 101 and some industrially zoned land along NH Routes 101 and 31 South. The uses permitted within each district include:

Residential: single-family and duplex dwellings and accessory uses; multi-family dwellings with 3 units; permitted by special exception - home occupations, bed and breakfasts, churches, synagogues, parish houses and convents, hospitals, emergency medical centers and clinics, civic and municipal buildings, schools and daycare centers.

Residential and agricultural: any use permitted in the residential district; and all general farming and forestry activities.

Commercial: any use permitted in the residential and agricultural district; duplex and multi-family dwellings, inns, tourist courts, cabins, and bed and breakfasts; restaurants and other retail establishments; garages, parking lots and filling stations; business and professional offices; theaters, halls, clubs and amusement centers; greenhouses and florist shops; funeral homes; and wholesale establishments in connection with permitted retail establishments, warehousing or merchandise for sale within the district.

Industrial: Manufacturing, compounding, processing, packing, treatment or warehousing of goods and products; research and/or testing laboratories; and offices; and commercial uses under the same terms and conditions as industrial uses.

Minimum lot size in the residential district is 0.5 acre with water and sewer and one acre without with 100 ft. frontage. Lot size in the residential agricultural district is either one, one and a half or two acres depending on soil conditions with 200 ft. of frontage. The commercial district does not establish a minimum lot size; however, it does establish a maximum lot coverage of 75 percent. The industrial district requires a two acre minimum lot size with 200 ft. of frontage and lot coverage cannot exceed 60 percent or 40 percent in the aquifer protection district. Cluster developments are permitted in the residential and agricultural district with a minimum tract area of 15 acres with 500 ft. of frontage; no minimum lot sizes or setbacks are established. In addition, the Town has adopted a number of regulations to protect its natural resources such as a floodplain conservation district, a wetland conservation district and an aquifer protection district.


Greenville's zoning within the study corridor is predominantly industrial and commercial with small sections of residential and rural/agricultural. The following uses are permitted in each district:

Rural/agricultural: single-family residences; convalescent or nursing homes; educational use, place of worship or public and semi-public nonprofit uses; veterinarian, commercial stable or kennel; general farming; roadside stands for the sale of produce grown on the premises; commercial agricultural uses; cemeteries; public utility installations; excavations of natural materials; accessory uses to permitted uses; home occupations; and start-up home businesses; permitted by special exception - inn or tourist home.

Residential: single-family residences; two-family residences; educational use, place of worship or public and semi-public nonprofit uses; public utility installations; accessory uses to permitted uses; home occupations; and start-up home businesses; permitted by special exception - multi-family housing and inn or tourist home.

Commercial: retail business establishments; professional offices; banks and financial institutions; real estate offices; restaurants, cafeteria, bakery and confectionery shops; grocery or general store; place of worship; inn or tourist home; indoor theater; private club; self-service storage centers; health care facilities; recreational facilities; building supply facilities; and accessory uses to permitted uses; permitted by special exception gasoline service station or garage, single-family residence, two-family residence, multi-family housing, and light industry.

Industrial: any industry whose use or process is not obnoxious or offensive by reason of gas, radiation, odor smoke vibration, liquid discharge, illumination, noise or appearance and which does not constitute a public hazard whether by fire, explosion or otherwise; plants for the processing and distribution of milk and dairy products for human consumption and for bottling or packaging beverages, pharmaceuticals, and toilet preparations perfumes and similar products; printing, publishing and general contractors; restaurant and cafeteria; and accessory uses to permitted uses; permitted by special exception - uses permitted in the C and C-I districts.

Minimum lot size and frontage requirements for single family buildings are one acre/150 ft. frontage with municipal sewer and two acres/200 ft. frontage without. Minimum lot sizes for multi-family buildings range depending on the number of units in the structure. A 0.5 acre minimum lot size is required within the commercial district and a five acre minimum lot size is required in the industrial district and minimum frontage for both is 200 ft. regardless of whether or not municipal or sewer service is provided.

New Ipswich

The New Ipswich section of the study corridor is zoned rural except for one section just north of Water Loom Pond which is zoned Village District I. The following uses are permitted in each district:

Village District I: single-family dwellings and accessory uses; two-family dwellings and accessory uses; places of worship; permitted by special exception inns, bed and breakfasts, nursing and convalescent homes, daycare and day nurseries, and kindergartens, professional uses and home occupations, and multi-family dwellings.

Rural: any use permitted in Village District I and II; mobile homes; cluster developments on 10 acres or more; agricultural uses; recreational uses; roadside stands; greenhouses; stables and riding schools; summer camps; permitted by special exception - uses permitted by special exception in Village District I and II, commercial, business, industrial, excavations, group home, camping area, saw mills, slaughter houses, junk yard, heavy equipment business, light industry, veterinary clinics, kennels, residential cluster on tract less than ten acres.

Minimum lot size in the Village District I is one acre with 200 ft. of frontage. Minimum lot size in the rural district is two acres with 200 ft. of frontage. All structures and parking lots must be set back 100 ft. from the normal bank of all lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and brooks. In addition, the Town has a floodplain district and a steep slope district.

  1. Water Quality

List the location of all operating stream gauge stations maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the Department of Environmental Services. Include the number of years of record and whether it is a partial or full record station.

Souhegan River flow data is collected at the stream gauge station in Merrimack located just above Wildcat Falls. The station operated as a full station until 1976 when it was converted to a partial station that is used only during periods of extreme weather, to estimate flooding conditions or drought severity.

  1. Riparian Interests/Flowage Rights

Briefly describe any riparian interests in the corridor, including any known flowage rights, historic water uses, and legislative authorizations or appropriations (for example, a town given legislative authorization to water for public consumption in the 19th century).

Pennichuck Water Works withdrew water from the Souhegan from 1965 to 1984 at a maximum rate of 10.8 cfs. While Pennichuck no longer uses this withdrawal for public supply, the company maintains the right to withdraw water in the future.