WALPOLE, N.H. — Elected officials from both sides of the Connecticut River attended a “portage parade” Saturday at the Bellows Falls Dam put on jointly by the Connecticut River Conservancy, Appalachian Mountain Club, and American Whitewater organizations.
The event was held to call for better portage routes for paddlers and other recreational improvements at the dam as a condition of the operating license renewal for Great River Hydro, the dam’s owner. When granted, the renewed license could last for the next 50 years.
At present, paddlers need to take their watercraft out of the water and walk for one-and-a-half miles around the dam along parts of heavily trafficked highways.
Saturday’s event began with the arrival of paddlers on the Connecticut River in kayaks and canoes at the Pine Street Boat Launch in North Walpole, N.H. One of the paddlers was Vermont House Representative Michelle Bos-Lun from Windham 4 District.
Next, the crowd listened to speeches pointing out the recreational and economic benefits if enhancements are required to be made at the dam. Listening in the crowd were Walpole Select Board Member Peggy Pschirrer and New Hampshire House Representative Lucy Weber from Walpole.
The event concluded with many in the crowd and the paddlers, with watercraft in tow, walking the one-and-a-half mile stretch along Route 12 in North Walpole needed to go around the dam.