Thorne to Leave as Head of Merrimack River Watershed Council

Merrimack River Watershed Council Executive Director Matthew Thorne, Congresswoman Lori Trahan, Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau and UMass Lowell Assistant Director of Outdoor and Bicycle Program, Campus Recreation Kevin Soleil during presentation of ceremonial check earlier this year. (Courtesy photograph.)

Merrimack River Watershed Council Executive Director Matthew Thorne steps down this week after two and a half years.

He leaves Wednesday, Aug. 31. During his time, the Council created programs to protect and restore the Merrimack River, including water quality monitoring, riverbank restoration, dam removal projects and community-based education. Thorne assembled a team that will sustain and expand these programs going forward.

“Matt had a vision and worked diligently over a very short period of time to fulfill that vision for the Merrimack River,” said Sarah Boehm, president of the Council’s board of directors. “With his leadership, our organization has experienced growth that we couldn’t have imagined three years ago.”

Despite beginning his tenure at the height of the pandemic, Thorne expanded the Merrimack River Watershed Council, gaining money for programs to monitor and protect the river’s water quality and kickstart environmental restoration projects in the Merrimack’s tributaries. Starting out with a staff of two, he grew the organization to nine employees.

“Through our incredible team, our invaluable partnerships and our passion to leave this watershed in a better state than we found it for the next generation, the Merrimack River Watershed Council has come a long way in a short period of time,” said Thorne.  “But we still have a long way to go and I look forward to tracking the success of all those working towards ecological integrity in the Merrimack Valley.”

The Council said in a statement that Thorne also developed education, outreach and volunteer programs to engage youth and adults, as well as recreational access programs for underserved youth. He has strengthened partnerships with allies that work closely with the Council in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

The Council has retained Harrington Management to find a successor.

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