State of Our Estuaries: Looking Back to Look Forward

Back in 2000, Bill Belichick became the head coach for the New England Patriots, “No Strings Attached” by *NSYNC was the best-selling album of the year, and PREP (formerly the New Hampshire Estuaries Project) produced the first ever State of New Hampshire’s Estuaries Report, a snapshot of the environmental conditions of the state’s estuaries.

Over the last 17 years a lot has changed at PREP including broadening our focus area to encompass 10 Maine communities along the Salmon Falls and Piscataqua Rivers, updating our name from New Hampshire Estuaries Project (NHEP) to the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership to reflect our new focus area, staff members have come and gone, partnerships with organizations across our region have grown, and the New England Patriots have won 5 Super Bowl Championships. (Go Pats!)

Despite all of these changes, one thing remains the same: PREP continues to strive to protect and improve the water quality and overall health of the region’s two estuaries—Great Bay & Hampton-Seabrook—through monitoring and researching the region’s water ways and encouraging all who live, work, and play on the Seacoast to take actions to help protect and preserve the places we love by supporting development patterns that protect water quality, maintaining open spaces and important  habitats, and restoring estuarine resources.

Every three to five years PREP also continues to produce the State of Our Estuaries Report to provide natural resource managers, local officials, conservation organizations, and the public with information on environmental conditions and the effects of management decisions and actions across our region. Everyone who lives in the Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook watersheds is—or should be—curious about the health of our estuaries, but for answers we’ll have to wait for the next State of Our Estuaries Report, scheduled for release this December.

While we all wait with anticipation, let’s look back at our first State of Our Estuaries Report from 2000 where it all began.

The New Hampshire Estuaries Project (NHEP) first published The State of New Hampshire’s Estuaries five years after starting the process of joining the US EPA National Estuary Program. A summary of the Technical Characterization of Estuarine and Coastal New Hampshire, the report identified challenges related to environmental quality in New Hampshire’s estuaries including poor water quality and declining natural resources, management issues such as uncheck growth and development patterns, and inadequate enforcement of existing regulations. The report was our first opportunity to describe the scientific basis for water quality, land use, and natural resource management recommendations of the NHEP Management Plan.

Covering a broad range of topics, the report discusses bacterial, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, toxic materials, land use and growth, shellfish, finfish, waterfowl and shorebirds, eelgrass, salt marshes, and nuisance species, among others to develop a comprehensive understanding of our complex system. For more information you can check out each of the State of Our Estuaries Reports over the years here, or stay tuned over the summer as we explore successes and lessons learned through each as we develop the 2018 State of Our Estuaries Report!

Curious what the 2018 State of Our Estuaries will say about our region? The best way to get your copy will be in person at the next State of Our Estuaries Conference! Natural resource managers, local municipal officials, volunteer board members, conservation organizations, and the public are encouraged to attend.

Please join us:

December 8, 2017
Portsmouth Harbor Events Center, Portsmouth, NH


Back by popular demand the fiesta buffet!

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.