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Protecting and Restoring Aquatic Resources

Date: March 01, 2021

The Aquatic Resource Mitigation (ARM) Fund program is preparing for the 2021 grant round with an announcement of $2 million available in the Salmon Falls – Piscataqua River watershed. New Hampshire’s aquatic resources are under threat from development, land conversion, and climate change. As these important features are lost from the landscape, so are the valuable functions they perform for water quality, flood storage, and wildlife habitat. To offset losses to these resources, the NHDES Wetlands Bureau manages the state’s In-Lieu Fee (ILF) compensatory mitigation program, which provides grants to projects that will protect, restore, and enhance wetlands and streams. When there are significant unavoidable impacts, a permittee may make a payment to the ARM Fund and the monies are pooled into nine watershed accounts. NHDES oversees the ARM Fund program and works with a nine-member Site Selection Committee and coordinates closely with the Army Corps of Engineers and other federal partners to disburse the funds as competitive grants. The program supports projects that protect resources of high ecological value and promotes restoration efforts where functions can be sustained over the long term.  

The ARM Program recognizes the potential for long-term environmental results from mitigation that considers watershed goals, assists conservation efforts important to a town, and targets efforts toward important and vulnerable wetlands in a region. To date, the program has provided funding to 124 projects statewide, that have achieved 28,000 acres of land protection, over 100 acres of wetland and stream enhancement, and preservation of critical habitats for threatened and endangered species. To review a comprehensive dataset of grant awards provided to date, go to the new ARM Conservation Dashboard.

Another key factor to the program’s success is the use of data that has been collected on habitat and stream conditions.  This information is consolidated into the Aquatic Restoration Mapper. These tools help target candidate locations for protection, restoration, flood resiliency and public safety.  

All of the mitigation resources, updated application materials and information on the program are posted on the Wetlands Mitigation page and ready for review. For more information, contact Lori.Sommer@des.nh.gov, (603) 271-4059.

Image credit: Jan McClure, The Nature Conservancy