Posted by Kathy Kearns

"Friends of the Pemi" Win Spirit of NH Award

Plymouth, New Hampshire –  Volunteers from the “Friends of the Pemi” – Livermore Falls Chapter were delighted to be recognized for their service by New Hampshire State Parks at the 15th Annual Spirit of New Hampshire Awards, sponsored by Volunteer NH. President of the Friends of the Pemi, Ken Evans (who is also current President of the Plymouth Rotary Club), accepted the award at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord surrounded by other staunch members of the volunteer group and members of the NH Division of Parks and Recreation.
     The Friends group was nominated for the award by Patrick Hummel, Volunteer Program Manager for NH State Parks. Hummel applauded the accomplishments of the group saying “they are one of the strongest and most valuable volunteer relationships our Department has in the entire State.” He listed the Friends many volunteer accomplishments including the group’s ability to provide “an organized voice of the local community to the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in helping to implement change and improvements to a popular local resource.”
     The Friends of the Pemi initially came together years ago in response to community concerns about the misuse of the Livermore Falls property. The Livermore Falls State Forest, which includes forested land on both the Holderness and Campton sides of the Pemigewasset River, was unsupervised, had become a venue for underage drinking, and had attracted graffiti on the historic mill ruins. The Town of Holderness reported that 40% of its police activity was in the Livermore Falls area and river rescues were a frequent concern. Reckless behavior, including jumping from the Pumpkin Seed Bridge and the rocky cliffs, often resulted in serious injury and even death.
     The Friends of the Pemi helped the State organize meetings when the property transitioned from the Department of Fish and Game to the (now) Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. “Visioning Sessions” encouraged community members to become involved and several clean-up sessions were held on both sides of the river. Later, a Rotary District grant helped the Friends purchase and install picnic tables, grills and bike racks at the Holderness beach area. 
     Working alongside State representatives, two archeological studies were conducted by the Heritage Bureau, a comprehensive Cultural Landscape Report and Environmental Assessment was completed, a 75-car parking lot was created to alleviate illegal parking in the surrounding neighborhood on the Holderness side, pit toilets were installed, and a toll booth was staffed during the summer months, with a coin operated air station provided for recreational visitors to inflate their rafts before traveling down the river. The Friends took turns greeting visitors and providing information to the community throughout the warm weather months. They organized annual summer events such as historical walks, river rescue demonstrations, and “float days” to engage the public in healthy activities that would change the culture at Livermore Falls.
     Thanks to Ken Evans leadership and the strong work ethic of the Friends, the more than 1,000 hours of annual volunteer work donated annually has made Livermore Falls a family-friendly, safe place to enjoy the Pemigewasset for swimming, boating, rafting, picnicking and more. The Friends and NH Division of Parks and Recreation are looking forward to making further improvements in the near future including installing more parking on the Campton side of the river and interpretive educational signage that will help visitors better understand and enjoy the tremendous cultural history of the Livermore Falls Recreation area.
     Members of the Friends of the Pemi attending the Spirit of NH Volunteer Awards ceremony included Friends President, Ken Evans, Fran and Malcolm “Tink” Taylor (Chair of the Historical Committee), Larry Spencer (Environmental Committee), Omer C. Ahern -- Jr. Grafton County Commissioner, and Kathy Kearns (Communications). State Representatives attending the awards included Phil Bryce -- Director of the NH Division of Parks and Recreation, Patrick Hummel – Volunteer Program Manager for NH State Parks and award nominator, and Eric Feldbaum – Community Recreation Specialist for the Division of Parks and Recreation.