The Merrimack: River at Risk

The Merrimack River is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in America. During the 19th century, mills in cities such as Manchester, New Hampshire, and Lowell, Massachusetts, harnessed the power of the river to become the largest manufacturing plants in the world. Like many rivers in America, the Merrimack was heavily polluted as a result of industrial growth. But, thanks to the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Merrimack has been cleaned up considerably over the last 50 years. Remarkably, more than 80 percent of the Merrimack watershed is still undeveloped and largely forested. However, in 2016, it was named one of the most endangered rivers in the United States by the nonprofit American Rivers. 

Hosted by conservationist and New Hampshire native Leah Hart, the documentary spotlights the threats the river and the watershed face now and in the future.

From water treatment professionals to river guides to community builders, Hart interviews people who know what's at stake if towns and communities don’t work together to protect the river and the forests that surround it. It’s through these compelling interviews and Jerry Monkman’s visually stunning cinematography that viewers will come to appreciate the often forgotten resources the Merrimack provides thousands of people every day and why it’s so important to protect them.

Why is the Merrimack at risk? Can we save it? Find out by watching, The Merrimack: River at Risk!


Presenting Sponsor: Merrimack County Savings Bank   

Underwriting sponsors: The Norwin S. and Elizabeth N. Bean Foundation & Land Law

Funding was provided, in part, through the MCP’s Environmental Science, Education and Outreach Grant Program provided by the Merrimack Conservation Partnership, a public/private partnership for land conservation land in the Merrimack River Watershed. To learn more, visit

A river at sunset winds past a former mill building in Lowell.

Upcoming Screenings

Check our events page to find out more about upcoming screenings of the documentary. Contact Forest Society Communications Manager Ryan Smith if you're interested in setting up a screening for your organization or business with one of our staff members in attendance to answer questions.

About the Director, Cast & Crew

The Merrimack took more than four years to create! The cast and crew were dedicated to uncovering the story of the river at risk and taking viewers on a journey from the past to present. Learn more about director Jerry Monkman, host Leah Hart, and the other cast and crew who made the film possible.

Protect The Merrimack

Find out more about the Merrimack River watershed and how a collaboration among 33 nonprofits and agencies across New Hampshire and Massachusetts is working on water protection, advocacy, restoration, outreach, and education.

Explore the Watershed

From Franklin, New Hampshire to Newburyport, Massachusetts, there is much to see and experience along the Merrimack River watershed. Here are a few ideas to explore the watershed on your own, celebrating the clean water and healthy forests that make it a great place to live, work and play.

In the News

Read news coverage about the Merrimack River Watershed and articles related to our film from media outlets across the region, including interviews with Director Jerry Monkman and Producer Jack Savage.