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Wetlands

Preserving and protecting New Hampshire’s tidal and freshwater wetlands from unregulated alteration.

An aerial view of a wetlandNew Hampshire’s diverse natural resources support many of the activities that drive New Hampshire’s economy. Residents, businesses and visitors enjoy New Hampshire’s wetlands, streams, lakes and the seacoast for their natural beauty and recreational opportunities.

In addition to their economic value, New Hampshire’s wetland resources are of great importance for flood control, water quality, water storage and recharge for both groundwater and surface waters. These functions are more valuable with the expected increase in frequency and severity of storm events associated with climate change. Wetlands also support the food chain, providing food and habitat for a variety of aquatic and upland plants and wildlife.

Although New Hampshire has lost fewer wetlands to filling and dredging than many neighboring coastal states, landscape change poses a significant challenge to the protection of New Hampshire’s wetlands and natural resources. It is found to be for the public good and welfare of the State of New Hampshire to protect and preserve both tidal and fresh waters and its wetlands (including lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, marshes, forested wetlands and peatlands) from unregulated despoliation because of the important functions and values that these aquatic resources provide, such as:

  • Absorbing flood waters.
  • Treating stormwater.
  • Recharging groundwater supplies.
  • Providing habitat for fish and wildlife.
  • Providing economic and recreational value.

Activities located in wetlands and surface waters, such as excavation, removal, filling, dredging and/or construction of structures in or on any bank, flat, marsh, forested wetland or adjacent to waterbodies, generally requires review and approval from the Wetlands Bureau in accordance with the Fill and Dredge in Wetlands Act (RSA 482-A), unless otherwise specified by rule or law.

Emergency Authorizations

During emergency situations caused by natural disasters, private property owners and public agencies can perform work in wetlands jurisdiction without receiving a permit or prior authorization when there’s a threat to public safety, public health, or if significant damage to public infrastructure or private property is imminent. Requests for Emergency Authorizations are handled by the regional permit inspector. For further information and instructions, see Fact Sheet WB-9 “Obtaining Authorization for Emergency Wetlands Impacts.”

Streams and Crossings

Planning a culvert, bridge or other stream crossing project? Details and information on best management practices for achieving geomorphic and hydraulic compatibility.

Docking Structures and Shoreline Stabilization

Shoreline stabilization projects and docking structures involve dredge, fill, or the placement of structures in tidal and freshwaters and associated banks.

Coastal Projects

Projects that might impact tidal wetlands or work within the 100-foot upland tidal buffer zone must consider resiliency in the face of future flood risks and sea level rise projections.

Protected Shorelands and Shorelines

Our shorelands and shorelines are among our most valuable and fragile natural resources. Unregulated impacts can deteriorate water quality and affect our landscapes.

Contact Us:

NHDES Wetlands Bureau
Concord: (603) 271-2147
Portsmouth: (603) 559-1500
Fax: (603) 271-6588