Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Winter 2018

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School



Natural Resource Department


Natural Resources and the Environment

Program or Major

Environmental Conservation and Sustainability

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Mary Friedman


Estuaries are some of the most diverse and fragile ecosystems on our planet. All over the nation, along the coastal states, half of the wetlands, about 55 million acres, have been destroyed (“Habitat Loss Nationwide,” n.d.). Most of these wetlands get Dutton 3 cleared and drained for development, agriculture, etc. In the estuaries located in the Gulf of Maine, development has doubled in the last forty years in the lower watershed (“Habitat Loss Nationwide,” n.d.). This has resulted in an increase in population and impervious surfaces, which correlates with the negative impacts to the watershed, such as runoff and sedimentation (National Research Council, 1987). Other factors have contributed to the degradation of the estuaries in the Piscataqua region such as sealevel rise and an increase in fertilizer use (citations). Some changes have been made to protect these estuaries, however, solving the cumulative impacts need to be included in the protection. Each individual activity is not independent of each other. Their activities work together to decrease the productivity and health of the estuaries. We have policies that have been created, and zoning that has been changed to improve estuaries, however, we need to take that next step forward to fill in the gaps. The goal of this paper is to analyze the current policies and programs, identify the gaps to improve and enhance the programs to be in line with the longstanding ideals of protection and conservation of Durham’s estuaries.