Earth Day Workshop: Backyard Solutions to Nitrogen Pollution in the Great Bay Estuary

April 13, 2010

Portsmouth, NH – The New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by hosting an eco-friendly workshop highlighting steps that local residents can take to reduce nitrogen pollution in the Great Bay Estuary right in their own backyard. Participants will get basic tips on how to install a rain garden at home. They will also learn how to make eco-friendly decisions about lawn fertilization.

When: Tuesday, April 20 from 7 to 8 PM

Where: Urban Forestry Center Meeting Room – 45 Elwyn Rd. in Portsmouth, NH

Free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $10. RSVP online at or send an email to

The workshop is part of the New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership’s ongoing efforts to improve water quality in Great Bay by reducing nitrogen pollution from two major sources: lawn fertilizers and stormwater run-off. When it rains, stormwater run-off carries nitrogen from lawn fertilizers, pet waste, and leaky septic tanks into the estuary. As a result, the total nitrogen load to Great Bay has increased by more than 42 percent over the past five years. Nitrogen pollution can trigger explosions of algae in an estuary that consume oxygen and block out sunlight aquatic plants and wildlife need to survive, leading to a loss of habitat.

The week of Earth Day is a great time for the seacoast community to come together and learn how to take action to protect Great Bay. This critical coastal habitat is home to more than 162 species and plays an important role in the local economy. Countless tourists travel to the seacoast to learn about the estuary each year.

Editorial: Great Bay needs everyone’s help

March 26, 2010

An editorial in The Concord Monitor shines a light on the water quality problems facing Great Bay and how people can help by supporting oyster restoration. Read the editorial.

Part of Newmarket gravel pit land belongs to Nature Conservancy

December 11, 2009

Access the Seacoast Online Article here.

“The Planning Board unanimously voted to accept a gravel pit reclamation plan submitted on behalf of The Nature Conservancy for property it owns along Wadleigh Falls Road during its Dec. 8 meeting.

Located at 358 Wadleigh Falls Road, the pit is part of a 115-acre parcel of land extending from Newmarket to Durham that belongs to the conservancy.

Special attention will be taken to create and enhance wildlife habitat for various turtle and bird species that have been found there as well”

Pact reached to conserve three islands in New Castle back channel

December 11, 2009

Read the full Foster’s article here.

“The New Castle Open Space Committee, the Southeast Land Trust, and the landowner have reached agreement on the proposed purchase of three islands in the Piscataqua River’s back channel in New Castle, affectionately known by generations of island children as “Jumping Rock.”

The undeveloped islands offer habitat for a diversity of wildlife, including tern, deer, blue heron, kingfisher and other wildlife. Blueberry bushes, white pine and red oak populate the islands.”

TREE Facility in Rochester Certified as Wildlife at Work

December 1, 2009

Read the full article as featured in Business NH magazine

“Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) in Rochester was one of 18 facilities to receive re-certification as a ‘Wildlife at Work’ site from the Wildlife Habitat Council. These certifications, announced at the council’s annual meeting, recognize outstanding habitat management and environmental education programs developed through partnerships with local organizations.

The TREE facility is an environmental park encompassing roughly 1,245 acres, of which 150 are actively managed for wildlife. The land abuts both the Isinglass and Cocheco rivers.”

The Isinglass River feeds into the Cocheco River, a tributary of the Great Bay estuarine system.

Conservation Roundtable, Part I: Wildlife and Water: Why Is It Important?, 11/19/2009

November 3, 2009

November 19, 2009; 7-9 pm

Candia Town Office Meeting Room; Candia, NH 

Why is land and water important? Why does it need to be protected? Frank Mitchell and guests will discuss how land and water provides habitat for native wildlife and plants and “ecosystem” or natural services such as water quality protection, groundwater recharge, and flood control.

Riparian Zones Essential in Protecting Water Quality

November 3, 2009

A recent article by David Deen published in the Keene Sentinel captures how invaluable riparian zones are to the overall well being of a waterbody.

“The riparian zone is the three-dimensional land area (width, length and depth) directly adjacent to a wetland, lake or river that interacts with both the water and land ecosystems.”

Riparian zones serve diverse purposes in their relation to waterbodies. They often serve as a sort of last defense between stormwater/runoff and its direct input into a system. We know this is essential for Great Bay due to the excess of Nitrogen it has been experiencing from increased non-point sources.

Riparian vegetation provides shade, helps stave off erosion problems and serves as an invaluable source of leaf litter which provides habitat for aquatic organisms.

2009 State of the Estuaries Report Reveals Signs of a Declining Coastal Environment

October 23, 2009

A new report from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) concludes that the environmental quality of the Piscataqua Region estuaries is declining. Eleven of 12 environmental indicators show negative or cautionary trends – up from seven indicators classified this way in 2006.

 The most pressing threats to the estuaries relate to population growth and the associated increases in nutrient loads and non-point source pollution.

 •       Each year, about 2.3 square miles of undeveloped fields and forests in the coastal watershed are converted into roads, parking lots, and/or buildings, dramatically reducing the ability of the land to retain and clean polluted runoff from rainwater and melting snow before entering the estuary.  Sprawling development patterns, which are typical in much of the watershed area, add more developed areas per person than approaches that include compact development or conservation subdivision designs.

 •       In Great Bay, the concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, which can be harmful at high levels, has increased by 44 percent in the past 28 years. The negative effects of this on the estuary system are evident in the decline of water clarity, eelgrass habitat loss, and failure to meet water quality standards for dissolved oxygen concentrations in tidal rivers.

 Other indicators that suggest a declining environment include historically low oyster and clam populations, toxic contaminants present in nearly 25 percent of estuarine sediments, increased prevalence of petroleum-based contaminants in Piscataqua River shellfish, poor migratory fish returns, and continued beach and shellfish bed closures due to bacteria pollution.

 The report highlights one area of environmental improvement. By the end of 2008, 76,269 acres (11.3 percent of the watershed) were permanently protected from development. These undeveloped lands provide critical habitat for wildlife and help prevent further water quality degradation.

 PREP publishes a State of the Estuaries report every three years to communicate the status and trends of key environmental indicators for the Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook estuaries and the Piscataqua Region watersheds. Public Service of New Hampshire provided funding to PREP to produce this year’s report.

 PREP is a program based at the University of New Hampshire that collaborates with governmental agencies, researchers, conservation organizations, businesses, and the public to implement a management plan to protect, restore, and monitor the region’s coastal watersheds. The program is primarily funded by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency.  

 The 2009 State of the Estuaries Report may be viewed at

Taking Action for Wildlife Workshop 10/22/09

October 14, 2009

On Thursday October 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. a workshop entitled Taking Action for Wildlife will be held at GBNERR’s Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center. This is an opportunity for municipal planning officials to learn how to recognize habitats critical to the survival of species at risk, use information in the NH Wildlife Action Plan, identify actions you can take to conserve wildlife in your community, and incorporate wildlife considerations into your municipal planning documents. The workshop will include a brief overview of the NH Wildlife Action Plan, hands-on exercises, and a discussion of how towns can incorporate wildlife habitat needs into their conservation planning. The event will include a light dinner. There is no charge for the workshop but registration is required by Monday October 19. To register or if you have questions call Steve at 778-0015 ext. 305 or email at

Oyster Story on NH Chronicle

September 16, 2009