PREP Publications

Abstract

Open spaces – forests, fields, wetlands, floodplains, salt marshes, rivers and streams – are integral to our community. These lands and waters that thread through our neighborhoods are a scenic reminder of our history, when people made their living by working the land. Yet we still depend on these open spaces for our health and our wellbeing. These places provide many “services” such as clean air, flood control, filtering pollutants and purifying drinking water, natural pest control, plant pollination, cooler summer temperatures, and areas for relaxing, exercising and recreating. Collectively these can be thought of as a “natural services network” – a minimum framework or backbone of open spaces that offer these services to all of us regardless of age, income, or points of view. New Hampshire is transforming from a largely rural state to a mostly urban and suburban one. This trend will continue at a rapid pace as the State is expected to grow by 358,000 people (or more than 28%) from 2000 to 2025. Most of this growth will occur in the four southeastern counties, with the Town of Newmarket in the heart of this growth area. The major land use trends include loss of unfragmented forestland, lack of protected lands around public water supplies and aquifers, and loss of intact wetlands and wildlife habitat (SPNHF 2005). Many communities, including the residents of Newmarket, have acknowledged these changes and the need to conserve special places and ecosystems by supporting land use planning tools, natural resource inventories, conservation funds, and stewardship of lands. Since 2001, 83 New Hampshire towns have passed open space bond issues or appropriated funds for land acquisition worth more than $135 million (NH Center for Land Conservation Assistance). In 2002, Newmarket residents overwhelmingly passed a $2 million land acquisition bond. Landowners in our community have generously donated interest in land or easements to ensure that conservation values are protected in perpetuity. This support for land and water conservation that benefits all of us is a tribute to the community land ethic in our region. The Town of Newmarket boasts a rich diversity of natural habitats and associated plants and animals. The Lamprey and Piscassic Rivers, Great Bay Estuary, and Tuttle Swamp, to name just a few, all contribute to the sense of place and allure of the town (Map 1). Balancing the preservation of open space with responsible development, long maintained as a priority by Newmarket citizens, business owners and town officials, is necessary, as growth and all its requisite accompaniments present increasing challenges. Recent concerns about the availability of drinking water for Newmarket residents and businesses as well as the floods of 2006 reflect these challenges. As Newmarket continues to grow, so will concern over loss of natural areas, recreational opportunities, and the quality of life that residents have long enjoyed. Maintaining a network of rivers and wetlands, forests and fields throughout Newmarket for the health of the land and people requires vision, support, and action. In 1991, the Town of Newmarket hired the Smart Associates to prepare a Natural Resource Inventory and Conservation Plan. This was the beginning of efforts by the Conservation Commission to conserve important lands identified in the “Smart Report.” In the fifteen years that have elapsed since the Smart Report, Newmarket has undergone many changes, highlighting the need to revisit the current state of natural resources within the community. The Open Space Commission and Conservation Commission have led recent efforts to identify and protect conservation and recreation areas. The Planning Board and staff have led in creating effective land use planning tools that conserve open spaces while allowing orderly and thoughtful development. Together, Newmarket Open Space Conservation Plan Page 7 of 94 these boards applied for a grant from the NH Estuaries Project (NHEP) Technical Assistance Program in 2006 to develop an Open Space Plan. The NHEP awarded the grant of $6,200 to Ibis Wildlife Consulting to work with the Town of Newmarket to prepare this Plan.

Publication Date

6-2007

Publisher

New Hampshire Estuaries Project

Document Type

Report

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