The best way to protect our waters and lands is to conserve them in their natural state and prevent sources of pollution from ever occurring. There is a fantastic network of land trusts and organizations who actively work to protect the lands of the Piscataqua Region and through their tireless efforts 13.5% of lands in the region had been conserved at the end of 2011.
PREP’s State of Our Estuaries Indicator “Conservation Land (General)” explores this further.
However, not all conservation land is equal. There are two key science-based regional conservation plans for New Hampshire and Maine that help map and prioritize the work of conservation in the Piscataqua Region.
These plans identify 90 Conservation Focus Areas, these areas represent the highest priority lands to conserve in order to protect clean water and highest quality wildlife habitat. At the end of 2011, 28% of these core priority areas were conserved. PREP’s State of Our Estuaries Indicator Conservation Land (Priority) explores this further.
PREP also support the important work of land conservation through our Land Transaction Grants Program. This program is offered every year and funds are announced via email and website.
Along with many partners, PREP helps to support the restoration of four primary habitats:
Salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. In the past few centuries, many of the salt marshes in the Piscataqua Region watershed have been degraded or lost over time. Restoration efforts attempt to restore the function of these critical habitats. PREP’s goal is to restore 300 acres of salt marsh and enhance (through invasives removal and native planting) an additional 300 acres of salt marsh by 2020.
Oysters grow in concentrated groups, called beds or reefs, in areas with hard bottom. Historic data has documented that the amount and size of oyster beds in the Piscataqua Region watershed have been decreasing or lost over time. Restoration efforts attempt to restore the abundance and function of these critical habitats. PREP’s goal is to restore 20 acres of oyster reef habitat by 2020.
With PREP’s support, The Nature Conservancy along with UNH and the Coastal Conservation Association of New Hampshire have developed a successful Great Bay oyster restoration program. Using recycled shell that is collected from area restaurants through CCA-NH as well as oyster babies that are raised by area residents called Oyster Conservationists and substrate shell from North Carolina the group ‘plants’ oysters on the bottom of the Bay floor in the hopes that they will recover, reproduce and grow.
There’s lots of ways to help in this very important effort:
- Become an Oyster Conservationist
- Order oysters at a restaurant that recycles the shell
- Slurp local oysters & support our local oyster farmers.
- Learn more about Great Bay oyster restoration efforts with PREP’s State of Our Estuaries “Oyster Restoration Indicator“.
Eelgrass grows in meadows on the floor of the estuary and provides important habitat for young fish, lobsters and mussels. Historic data suggests that eelgrass meadows in the Piscataqua Region watershed have been thinning or lost over time. Restoration efforts attempt to restore the coverage and function of this critical habitat. PREP’s goal is to restore 50 acres of eelgrass habitat by 2020.
Explore more about PREP’s work with eelgrass in the State of Our Estuaries “Eelgrass Restoration Indicator“.
Migratory Fish Access
Dams and road crossings of streams often block migratory fish from swimming upstream to reproduce and safely downstream to grow in the estuary and ocean, limiting their populations. PREP’s goal is to restore native diadromous fish access to 50% of their historical mainstem river distribution range by 2020.
Learn more about PREP’s work in Migratory Fish Restoration in the State of Our Estuaries “Migratory Fish Restoration Indicator“.