Estuaries Reports Help With Land Use Decisions
By Dave Kellam, Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
March 7, 2007
The New Hampshire Estuaries Project mailed its State of the Estuaries
Report to every planning board and conservation commission member in the
42 communities of the coastal watershed to help citizens understand how
their land use policies and activities affect the regional environment.
Specific town data on population growth, impervious surfaces, sprawling
development rates, and key areas to target for conservation were included
in the reports. The timing of this mailing is intended to help better inform
communities preparing for town votes in March.
“Findings presented in the State of the Estuaries Report indicate
that our estuaries are in relatively good shape compared to others in the
nation, however, their future well-being depends on proactive land use
decisions that are made at the community level,” said Jennifer Hunter,
director of the New Hampshire Estuaries Project.
“We feel it is important for community board members to understand
current trends in water quality and to encourage activities like land conservation
and effective storm water management as they are dealing with continued
development pressures. Such activities will not only benefit a community,
but protect the environmental integrity of the Seacoast region.”
The report and supplemental community-specific data have been well received
by local land use planning boards. Middleton’s planning board chair,
Jack Savage, believes the report is a valuable asset to his board.
“This report, and especially the specific Middleton data, is useful
for us as we update our Master Plan. It helps us identify steps that we
can take to ensure good water quality downstream,” he said.
Don Clement, chair of the Exeter Conservation Commission, is enthusiastic
about the resource and its contribution to town planning. “I think
the beauty of the report is that it shows how the town’s actions
fit into the bigger picture. We are all part of the estuary and when we
work together, we protect the overall environment, not just our town’s
The report was also sent to 39 libraries in the coastal watershed, where
in most cases it was cataloged in the reference section. Individuals wanting
a copy of the report can contact the NHEP at 603-862-3403 or go online
The New Hampshire Estuaries Project is a cooperative environmental program
involving governmental agencies, universities, non-profit organizations,
businesses, and the public to protect, monitor, and enhance the ecological
health of the state’s coastal bays and rivers. It is funded in part
by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency. For more information,
go to www.nhep.unh.edu.