Beginning in 1995, the New Hampshire Estuaries Project (NHEP) embarked on a process to develop and systematically address the 98 Action Items outlined in the program's guiding document, the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan. The intent was to achieve the Plan's goals of improved water quality in New Hampshire's estuaries. The organization's name was changed in 2009 to the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) when the PREP focus area was expanded to include 10 Maine communities. The PREP addresses Action Items by either completing them directly or funding other organizations to complete the work.
The PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencyís National Estuary Program, which is a joint local/state/federal program established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. The PREP receives its funding from the EPA and is administered by the University of New Hampshire.
The PREPís Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for region's estuaries was completed in 2000 and implementation has been ongoing. The Management Plan outlines key issues related to management of New Hampshire's estuaries and proposes strategies (Action Plans) that are expected to preserve, protect, and enhance the region's estuarine resources. The PREP's priorities were established by local stakeholders and include water quality improvements, shellfish resources, land protection, and habitat restoration. Projects addressing these priorities are undertaken throughout Piscataqua Region coastal watershed, which includes 52 communities.
The PREP strives to:
- Improve the water quality and overall health of the region's estuaries;
- Support regional development patterns that protect water quality, maintain open spaces and important habitat, and preserve estuarine resources;
- Track environmental trends through the implementation of a long term monitoring program to assess indicators of estuarine health; and,
- Develop broad-based popular support for the implementation of the Management Plan by encouraging involvement of the public, local government, and other interested parties in its implementation.
Download the PREP Overview (.pdf/1.5MB)
Expansion into Maine
In 2005, the program moved from state government to the University of New Hampshire. In December 2007 the PREP Management Committee voted unanimously to expand the PREPís focus area to the entire Great Bay Estuary watershed, including the 24 percent of the watershed in Maine. This shift is a critical step toward achieving the programís watershed-wide goals of improving water quality and protecting and restoring important habitats. Read brochure