Date of Award

Winter 2009

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Andrew A Rosenberg


Seacoast New Hampshire's population has quadrupled in four decades resulting in sprawl and increased impervious surfaces which threaten the ecological health of Great Bay. Calls for watershed-based strategies addressing growth and land use planning abound. This study addresses these challenges by examining the question of whether there is a potential for watershed base land use decision-making. Using constructivist grounded theory, this study explores the social landscape of land use decision-making in a case study of the towns of the Lamprey River watershed. The qualitative methods include semi-structured interviews with GIS based maps and content analysis in NVivo software. Results include a proposed theoretical framework which characterizes the social landscape of land use decision-making concerning community, conflict and temporo-spatial scaling. Challenges and opportunities are also identified in moving towards watershed based land use decision-making. Conclusions represent a mix of optimistic and pessimistic themes regarding current land use decision-making and suggested recommendations necessary to move towards watershed-scaled land use planning.