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New Hampshire Awarded Over $525K to Boost Wetlands Protection

Release Date: 01/09/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – Jan. 9, 2009) – More than $525,000 of EPA grant money will help New Hampshire advance projects to protect wetlands.

The N.H. Dept. of Environmental Services (NHDES) and the N.H. Natural Heritage Program will share the EPA funding, designed to assist the state to develop a variety of planning and mapping tools to improve wetlands protection statewide.

“Wetlands are incredibly important to the health and well-being of our environment, and provide tangible benefits to our communities,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Wetlands help store floodwaters, purify and increase our drinking water supplies, provide habitat for wildlife and recreation for citizens. We’re proud to work to improve wetland protection here in New England.”

For nearly two decades EPA has awarded Wetland Program Development Grants to state agencies, federally-recognized Native American tribes, local governments, and interstate associations seeking to improve wetland protection though research, training, mapping, and other mechanisms. In recent years, EPA identified three priority areas for grant applicants to address in their proposed projects: developing a comprehensive wetland monitoring and assessment program; improving the effectiveness of wetland compensatory mitigation; and refining the protection of particularly vulnerable wetland types, such as vernal pools.

NHDES will develop a preliminary multi-agency GIS tool to integrate state water programs regulatory review to better protect three primary wetland functions; flood flow storage, water quality improvement, and wildlife habitat. DES will also develop an inspection and tracking program for mitigation, permit compliance & secondary impact assessments. DES will apply a watershed model to assist interested parties in three watersheds to apply for Aquatic Resource Mitigation funds for wetland restoration and protection projects under its newly implemented in-lieu fee compensatory mitigation program. DES will provide local communities with tracking reports/GIS maps illustrating conservation lands and mitigation sites within their town.

The N.H. Natural Heritage Program will enhance protection of critical, at risk and other priority wetlands in the state by improving the quantity, quality and effectiveness of information used for regulatory and non-regulatory wetland protection activities. The project will adapt a three-tier Ecological Integrity Assessment method; conduct wetland inventories to identify critical and at-risk wetlands in watersheds subject to intense development pressure; and disseminate project results through targeted workshops to local towns and non-governmental organizations.

The New Hampshire grants are part of a region-wide funding pool for wetland grants in New England totaling more than $1.7 million. Other wetlands projects are being funded by EPA in Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont.

More information:
Wetlands issues in New England (http://epa.gov/ne/topics/ecosystems/wetlands.html)

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