Camera shy volunteers from the Tilton Conservation Commission work to clean up the Salmon Run Conservation Area Saturday morning. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 16, 2017TILTON — Members of the Tilton Conservation Commission spent last Saturday morning sprucing up the gardens and grounds at Salmon Run Conservation Area on East Main Street, readying them for visitors to the scenic site along the Winnipesaukee River.
Kathi Mitchell explained that the name for the property stems from the history of the Winnipesaukee River, when Native Americans would come to the area for the annual salmon and shad fish runs. The fish later provided food for the first settlers to the area as well and the river itself helped power mills that were eventually built along the banks.
"It was just our way of drawing attention to a bit of the history of the river because it was such an important part of the community back then," she said.
Because of the dams that were later built, there aren't salmon running upstream today, but there are still many other types of fish that can be found in the waters beside Salmon Run Conservation Area.
"There's trout and other species here, and people are welcome to come try their luck. It's actually a very nice place to fish," said Selectman Jon Scanlon, the board's representative to the Conservation Commission.
Salmon Run also serves as a connection to the Winnipesaukee River Trail system. People can walk, jog or ride a bike from the parking lot behind McDonald's to Salmon Run, cross over to the sidewalk in front of the police station. From there people can cross the river at Cannon Bridge and follow the sidewalk to Surrette Park in Northfield. There the trail continues west along the riverfront to Trestle View Park in Franklin, with some interesting historic markers along the way.
"The plan is that Belmont will eventually bring their trail up to Tilton, so people will be able to travel the trails from Franklin all the way into Laconia," Commission Chairman Chuck Mitchell said.
Besides being a link in the WRT, the property further provides a great place to simply relax, have a picnic and enjoy the beautiful flowers that have been planted in the gardens and fields. Mitchell said Belknap Landscaping installed the flowerbeds then a wildflower seed mix was used to cover the rest of the property with green fields and bright blossoms. As a result, hundreds of daisies, Brown Eyed Susan, lupine and other natural flowers bring a variety of color to East Main Street in the summer months.
Kathi Mitchell, a master gardener herself, said the gardens at Salmon Run are especially nice in that there are plants that will blossom in spring, summer and fall.
"It was all designed to attract butterflies and bees, and there's something in bloom here all the time," she said.
Last Saturday, Mitchell, his wife Kathi Scanlon, and Commissioner Paul Rushlow focused on weeding all the flower beds and trimming along the wooden rail fencing. In the meantime, Commissioner Jim Cropsey took on the task of cutting down overgrown brush and some of the small saplings along the riverbank itself.
"What we'd really like is to open the river up along here so people can see how beautiful it is when they drive along Main Street and into town," Mitchell said.
On June 25, the annual Winni Slalom kayak competition will take place in the river off Salmon Run where competitive kayakers from all around the northeast will make their way through a challenging course that ends by the railroad bridge in downtown Tilton.
"This is a great spot to watch the start of the race for anyone who's interested," said Scanlon.