Skip to main content
scroll to top

Protected Shoreland

Managing vegetation and development in proximity to public waters.

child in rain boots stands in puddle
Surfaces that do not allow water to infiltrate water can impact water quality in our lakes and rivers.

The shorelands of New Hampshire are among the state’s most valuable and fragile natural resources. The removal of vegetation in our shorelands can deteriorate water quality and affect the beauty of our landscapes. Fill, excavation, and construction can have similar impacts.

In New Hampshire, shorelands next to public waters are protected through regulations. In turn, protected shorelands ensure greater protection of property, water quality, human health, flora and fauna, and recreational opportunities.

The Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act (RSA 483-B) and its associated rules, Env-Wq 1400, establish a “protected shoreland.” The protected shoreland is an area close to public waters within which vegetation removal, excavation, fill, and development is regulated. Within the protected shoreland, excavation, fill and construction typically require a shoreland permit. However, if development occurs within the bank of a waterbody, a wetland permit may be required instead of a shoreland permit.

You can contact the Shoreland Program with questions about development within the protected shoreland by email at [email protected] or by phone at (603) 271-2147.

Rules Regulating Accessory Structures Close to Public Waters Changed in December 2019

Changes to the rules regulating accessory structures, such as beaches, patios, sheds, etc., within the protected shoreland were adopted on December 15, 2019. These rules regulate the construction, modification, and expansion of these structures close to public waters.  

 
 

Photograph of a rudimentary sand castle

Work on non-tidal beaches requires permits 

Did you know that creating new beaches, expanding existing beaches and replenishing sand in existing beaches require a state permit? 

Learn more about state regulations on non-tidal beaches  

Photograph of 3 white grubs in soils. 

Integrated Pest Management: An Alternative to Pesticides 

This fact sheet explains how to manage pests on your property while minimizing negative impacts on the environment. 

Read the fact sheet  

Photograph of a well vegetated waterfront buffer

Native plants protect water quality 

Native shoreland plants help reduce water pollution. As communities grow and New Hampshire’s landscape changes, the quality of our public waters depends on each of us managing the trees, shrubs, and low-growing plants on our property. 

Learn how to manage vegetation for water quality  

lake with fall foliage on the trees surrounding itConsolidated List of Waterbodies Subject to the SWQPA

NHDES' Consolidated List of Water Bodies subject to the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act (RSA 483-B) was prepared to provide a list of known reference line elevations for lakes and ponds. This list should not be relied upon to identify all water bodies jurisdictional under RSA 483-B.

Access the list  

screenshot pf online mapNew Hampshire Designated River Corridor Web Map 

This interactive map is designed to help applicants for permits, licenses and certifications determine if a proposed project falls within a Designated River corridor.  

Access the interactive map  

Snapshot of the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act Urban Exemption Web Map, showing an exempted area highlighted on an aerial photograph. 

SWQPA Urban Exemption Areas interactive map 

This web tool was developed by the NHDES Shoreland Program to assist the public in determining if projects are within areas that have been granted an Urbanized Shoreland Exemption. Areas that have been granted an Urbanized Shoreland Exemption are exempt from the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act, including the requirement to obtain shoreland permits.  

Access the interactive map  

Inforation Icon

Did you know?

Did you know?

You can find the status of a shoreland or wetlands application through NHDES OneStop. Check application status