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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Wetlands Bureau Rulemaking and Process Improvement Effort
fresh water wetland The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has been engaged in a significant, multi-year initiative to improve the technical review standards as well as the operation and decision-making processes used by the NHDES Wetlands Bureau (referred to as the "Wetlands Program Rule Making and Process Improvement Effort"). Check this page often for new information, draft administrative rules, new and draft BMP manuals, scheduled public input sessions and events, and to provide comments and ideas!

Current Status

NHDES is reconvening the Wetland Rules Workgroup to review public comments on its draft rules, released January 31, 2018. Comments were received between January 31 and the comment deadline of April 20, 2018. They were gathered by phone, email, mail, through our online comment collector, and at five public input sessions hosted by NHDES in Concord, Portsmouth, Laconia, Keene and Lancaster. There will be 9 public meetings of the Workgroup to review the comments between May 23 and Sept. 19, 2018.


The last complete rewrite of the wetlands rules occurred in 1991, and since then there have been intermittent changes. As part of this major rules overhaul, NHDES worked closely with our partner organizations, stakeholders and concerned citizens to obtain significant public feedback on the development of wetland rule concepts, strategies and process. Since 2014, NHDES hosted over 100 listening sessions, stakeholder workgroup sessions, partner meetings and presentations. NHDES heard from landowners, road agents, utility providers, loggers, foresters, engineers, conservation commissioners, industry and business, septic designers, general contractors, wetland scientists, conservation organizations, regional planning commissions, marine contractors, legislators, teachers, local, state, and federal officials, and, between 2014 and 2018, we received over 400 public comments.

The draft wetland rules propose over 50 new definitions to provide clarity and consistency, shorten the review time for lower scrutiny approvals and expand the number of projects that qualify for streamlined review, including stream crossing projects. An important goal with the new rules was to clarify: what activities require a permit and what type of permit authorization is needed; project classification; standard conditions; avoidance, minimization and mitigation requirements; review standards; and project specific standards. The draft rules also provide updates to the prime wetlands rules and requirements for stream crossings.

Past Public Sessions

NHDES Public Input Session Presentations

DRAFT Wetlands Administrative Rules

DRAFT Best Management Practices (BMP) Manuals

Frequently Asked Questions



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NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
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