The New Hampshire Estuary Spatial Planning Project: Coordinating Data to Assess Our Ecosystem Services
The New Hampshire Estuary Spatial Planning Project (NH ESP) is a two-year effort to coordinate the collection, integration, and accessibility of existing spatial data for New Hampshire's Hampton-Seabrook and Great Bay estuaries. Our overall goal is to help improve management decisions. These spatial datasets help visualize environmental, economic, and social information about the estuaries and are often used to create maps and inform critical planning decisions. New Hampshire's estuarine spatial datasets are currently developed by and housed at many different organizations, so NH ESP will help coordinate their management in a central, publicly accessible place. As an initial example, these spatial datasets will be used to assess the economic tradeoffs among different possible future activities in Great Bay, informing how coastal managers consider the many new and existing uses vying for space in the bay.
NH ESP launched in September 2013 and is coordinated by the Coastal Program's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Management Fellow, Kirsten Howard. The project is supported by the NHDES Coastal Program and NOAA's Coastal Services Center as well as The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) and the Natural Capital Project.
A diverse group of organizations around New Hampshire's estuaries is investing substantial resources in oyster, salt marsh, eelgrass, and fisheries protection and restoration. There are also major projects to improve water quality underway with regard to stormwater control and wastewater treatment facility effluent permits, as well as intensified interest in oyster aquaculture. The estuaries face ongoing pressures including, but not limited to, population growth and development, marine transportation, boat moorings, pathogens, invasive species, eutrophication, and climate change. The decision-making mechanisms pertaining to all of these issues tend to be sector-specific and inadequately integrated even though they all affect the limited geography of the two estuaries. Coastal resource managers and stakeholders are interested in planning more holistically to maximize the benefits that people get from conservation and restoration efforts as well as existing and future economic and recreational activities in the estuaries.
Management and conservation organizations active in the coastal region of New Hampshire have a strong track record of working together to address pressing management issues. There are excellent existing spatial datasets for the regionís estuaries that include information on water quality, bathymetry, marine habitats (e.g., eelgrass, oysters, saltmarsh), fish and wildlife, human uses, and potential impacts of climate change. These datasets have been generated by researchers at NHDES, the NH Fish & Game Department, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, the UNH Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, PREP, the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, TNC and many others.
Phase one: September 2013 to August 2014 - The first phase of NH ESP aims to coordinate these spatial datasets to address well-defined management questions and improve public access to this important information. The primary venue for this data will be a Coastal Viewer on GRANIT, New Hampshire's geographic information system (GIS) clearinghouse. By integrating these datasets in a single public location, New Hampshire’s coastal managers and other interested stakeholders will be able to make better informed decisions.
Phase two: March 2014 to September 2015 - During the second phase, the project team will conduct a tradeoff analysis of key ecosystem services to maximize the value of restoration and other activities in the Great Bay estuary. This analysis will use existing New Hampshire spatial datasets as well as models from InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Environmental Services and Tradeoffs). Great Bay stakeholders will be engaged in public meetings and through additional means to develop future scenarios and prioritize ecosystem services of interest. The analysis will be shared through maps and a final report.
Phase two products
InVEST tradeoff analysis maps and final report
If you have questions about NH ESP, or would like to provide input and receive periodic updates about the project, please contact Kirsten Howard at [email protected] or 603-559-0027.
Steve Couture, NHDES
Chris Williams, NHDES Coastal Program
Kirsten Howard, NHDES Coastal Program
Ray Konisky, TNC
Rachel Rouillard, PREP
Jodie Toft, TNC & The Natural Capital Project
Fay Rubin, UNH GRANIT
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