Sand Hill Reservoir Project

Sand Hill Reservoir Project Update

 

Background


The Reservoirs


The Old and New reservoirs in the Sand Hill Road and Isaac Frye
Highway area of Wilton are located in the Aquifer Protection District and the Watershed Protection District. These districts include all land from which rainfall ultimately ends up in either of these reservoirs. Mill Brook is the only Class A water source in the town and this is what fills the reservoirs. The Planning Board, Water Commission, Select Board, and Conservation Commission have all expressed their desires over the years to maintain the quality of this unique resource and the corresponding zoning district. The zoning district’s purpose is to protect this water resource which up until the mid 1980s was the sole source of the municipal water supply and continues to support the character and rural nature of this part of Wilton. 

 

The Dam


The town was issued a letter of deficiency by The NH Department of Environmental Services (DES), which will require significant and costly repairs and modifications to the dam. The town has been diligently working with the state and private contractors who are modeling the hydrology and other factors required, and has passed several warrant articles in the last few years to begin funding the project. The Select Board has decided the reservoir is such a unique resource that it must be preserved as such and that the option of repairing
its dam would be followed, as opposed to the alternative which is to permanently breach and remove the dam, draining the reservoir. The Select Board agreed specifically to fund the repairs and modifications only if the general public was provided access to the reservoir for passive recreation.

 

Status of Project


There are no improvements planned at this time other than those detailed in this article and associated documentation. The project’s goal reflects the public’s desire to keep the reservoir as wild and natural as possible
by permitting only passive recreation.


The Sand Hill Reservoir Advisory Committee, led by Bart Hunter and comprised of Wilton residents and town department heads, submitted a detailed plan  and recommendations for opening the site for public use, that was accepted by the Select Board in early December 2020. The SHRAC committee had commissioned a residents' survey of 361 respondents to inform their work. The Conservation Commission is coordinating the project consisting of a forest management plan, signage, a new trail network and a 14 car parking lot at the former logging site on Isaac Frye Hwy.

 

A timber harvest is scheduled to begin Monday, January 10 to address the threatened Red Pine and to open old logging roads before the parking lot and trail network are constructed.

 

Work to Date


The fire department has already implemented some safety measures with swimming buoys near the dam and a dry hydrant access point on the beach. The Select Board addressed the parking issues by posting all bordering access roads and making scenic Sand Hill Road one-way.

The area is already open to the public but currently without a management plan to protect the site and provide safe access. This town property is governed under the zoning ordinance associated with the Watershed Protection District (see Planning Board site for details) which provides enforceable restrictions governing usage, such as prohibiting fires, camping, and alcoholic beverages. Additional restrictions are under consideration to ensure the site’s character will be preserved and that it can continue to be a habitat for native wildlife.



This page will have additional information as it becomes available. The project documents are here, including some that may not be linked from this article.

If you have questions, please read the documents linked above or email the Town Administrator at: 
[email protected].

 

 

 

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