BETHEL — The Androscoggin River Watershed Council will convene a conference Thursday, Jan. 7, to discuss links between the environment and the economy, and to develop a 20-year vision for the Androscoggin River.

The day will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Bethel Inn Conference Center with presentations on the programs in place in Maine and New Hampshire to revitalize the economy by building on the river watershed area’s natural and physical assets.

Workshops will follow that evaluate the benefits of conservation, the role of forest lands to support a vital economy and sound environment, the river’s potential to be a catalyst for community renewal, and the issues of maintaining the quality of the experience that characterizes recreation on and around the Androscoggin.

Each session should have ample time for discussion between presenters and participants.

In the afternoon, the council will ask participants to provide their views on what the river valley should be like 20 years from now, Fergus Lea of the ARWC and the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments stated in a Thursday report.

“This visioning session will provide an opportunity for all to share their dreams for the river and the communities that line it,” Lea said.

“The ARWC hopes that participants can learn from each other, develop a better understanding of the various ideas, and that everyone will take an active role in working towards a common goal for the river and communities.”

The keynote speaker will be Steve Barba, former longtime director of The Balsams at Dixville Notch.

Barba, who is currently the director of development at Plymouth State College, will provide insight on how conservation and the sustainable economy are symbiotic partners.

The cost of the conference is $35 per person and includes a light breakfast, lunch and council membership.

Participants are urged to register by Dec. 30 via e-mail, phone or postal mail.

For more information or to register, visit or call 207-783-9186 and ask for Susan Martin or Ferg Lea, both of whom work at one of the conference’s co-sponsors.

Other co-sponsors include the Androscoggin Land Trust, L/A Trails, the Androscoggin Paddling Society, the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Mahoosuc Initiative.

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A conference by the Androscoggin River Watershed Council will be held on Thursday, Jan. 7, in Bethel to develop a 20-year vision for the river and its watershed as seen here in Gilead.

First snow of this year that fell along the Mahoosuc Notch Trail, one of several recreational trails in the Androscoggin River Watershed in western Maine.

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