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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

What are the requirements to mitigate by preserving an upland buffer?

NHDES has adopted ratios for how much mitigation is required based on the type of resource if mitigation is proposed by preserving an upland buffer.

Resource Type Preservation of
Upland Buffer Area
(buffer area: size of impact)
Bog   15 :1
Tidal Wetlands   15 :1
Forested   10 :1
Undeveloped Tidal Buffer Zone   3 :1
All Other Jurisdictional Areas   10 :1

To mitigate by protecting land, the upland buffer area proposed for conservation must meet all of the following criteria.

  • A minimum of 100 feet width of upland is provided and contiguous with the protected wetland or surface water resource(s).
  • The conservation area is adjacent to a jurisdictional area that meets or exceeds the functional assessment of the wetland to be impacted by the project.
  • The conservation area benefits the resource to be protected by maintaining water quality, wildlife habitat, or other functions and values of wetlands and surface waters.
  • The functions of the areas proposed to be impacted are evaluated and those functions compensated through the proposed mitigation package.
    • A functional assessment provides information on land use; soils; habitat; Natural Community Classification in accordance with The Natural Community Systems of New Hampshire, prepared by DRED-NHB and TNC, dated December 2005; presence of any rare, special concern, or state or federally listed threatened or endangered species present, including flora, fauna, or migratory species; and presence of exemplary natural communities identified by the DRED-NHB.
  • The upland buffer entirely surrounds the jurisdictional area or at least abuts those undeveloped upland portions under sole ownership.
  • The incorporated jurisdictional area is equal to or less than 50 percent of the total conservation area.
  • For conservation areas comprising less than 20 acres, a certified wetland scientist shall complete delineation in accordance with Rule Env-Wt 301.01.
  • The area is protected by a conservation easement.
  • The location of the conservation area abuts other existing protected lands.

What is a conservation easement? Who can hold an easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a non-profit land trust or governmental entity that permanently limits the uses of the land in order to protect specific conservation values. A conservation easement creates a long-term partnership between the landowner and easement holder. The easement holder periodically monitors the property by visiting the land to observe its condition. The easement holder also reviews with the landowner the easement terms and the landowner’s plans for management.

What information needs to be documented for a proposed conservation easement parcel?

  • A baseline documentation report that describes current property conditions and includes photographs that have been taken in the absence of snow cover that clearly and accurately show the nature and condition of the buffer area.
  • A summary of the conservation values and goals for the proposed preservation area that will be incorporated into the final conservation easement.
  • A surveyed plan showing the location of the proposed conservation area boundaries.
  • A statement from the proposed grantee indicating that the proposed grantee (proposed holder of the conservation easement) will accept the easement or fee simple deed.
  • A copy of the proposed conservation easement language. View a copy of a standard easement deed.

Conservation Area Baseline Documentation Report

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