PREP Publications

Abstract

Spanning 990 square miles and 46 towns, New Hampshire’s coastal watersheds harbor exceptional and irreplaceable natural, cultural, recreational and scenic resources (Figure 1). To advance the long-term protection of these resources, the State of New Hampshire, acting through the NH Coastal Program and the NH Estuaries Project, sought to develop a comprehensive, science-based land conservation plan for our coastal watersheds. The State engaged a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Rockingham Planning Commission, and Strafford Regional Planning Commission to develop the plan. The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Piscataqua Region supported this effort as a regional approach to setting land conservation priorities and strategies, and provided substantial matching funds. Southeastern New Hampshire is changing before our eyes. The region’s forests, wildlife habitat, clean water, and scenic vistas are increasingly threatened by sprawling development, roads, and other irreversible land use changes. Over the past 36 years, in Rockingham and Strafford Counties, an average of 2,230 acres per year has been converted from undeveloped land to a developed condition. And there is no indication that the pace of development will slow in the foreseeable future. The two Counties are projected to add more than 100,000 new residents from 2000 to 2025, and land values continue to rise steeply. With this conversion comes the loss of important natural resource values provided by undeveloped land, especially for plant and wildlife habitat, clean water, and other “ecological services.” To ensure a healthy environment into the future, it is essential that communities identify, retain, and protect the remaining undeveloped lands and waters that support the most important of these natural resource values and functions. Fortunately, it is not too late to protect the essential natural resources of Great Bay, Hampton Harbor, and the many important watersheds feeding into New Hampshire’s coastline. Thanks to the foresight and dedicated efforts of communities, citizens, conservation organizations and public agencies, more than nine percent of our coastal watersheds are permanently conserved. Many municipalities and communities have embraced land conservation through open space bonds, master plans, and local ordinances. New federal funds, such as the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation program, are available for conservation in the coastal watersheds. These protected lands and waters form the basis of a network of conservation areas that will help to safeguard our most critical natural resources over time. Now, more than ever, coastal New Hampshire communities need to ensure that they are making smart, enduring conservation investments in land protection and other effective local and regional strategies to have the greatest and most long-lasting beneficial impact on coastal Now, more than ever, coastal New Hampshire communities need to ensure that they are making smart, enduring conservation investments in land protection and other effective local and regional strategies to have the greatest and most long-lasting beneficial impact on coastal

Publication Date

8-2006

Publisher

New Hampshire Estuaries Project

Document Type

Report

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