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Estuaries Update November 2009, #79

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October PREP Activities linelineline line*
Reports and Publications

NextEra Energy Donation
10-1-09: PREP received a donation from NextEra Energy Seabrook Station which has supported the organization's work to protect and restore Hampton-Seabrook estuary for 10 years.

2009 State of the Estuaries Report

A new report from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) concludes that the environmental quality of the Piscataqua Region estuaries is declining. Eleven of 12 environmental indicators show negative or cautionary trends – up from seven indicators classified this way in 2006. The most pressing threats to the estuaries relate to population growth and the associated increases in nutrient loads and non-point source pollution. In Great Bay, the concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, which can be harmful at high levels, has increased by 44 percent in the past 28 years. Other indicators that suggest a declining environment include historically low oyster and clam populations, toxic contaminants present in nearly 25 percent of estuarine sediments, increased prevalence of petroleum-based contaminants in Piscataqua River shellfish, poor migratory fish returns, and continued beach and shellfish bed closures due to bacteria pollution. Read Report

Restoration of Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) Habitat for Multiple Estuarine Species Benefits

The overall goal of this project was to investigate restoration methods in Great Bay that positively affect multiple species. The focus was on those organisms (mainly macroalgae, invertebrates, and fish) that spend most of their time on oyster reefs—the resident species. A 0.5 hectare (1.25 acres) area was restored in August 2007 by constructing twelve mini-reefs (each ~6 m in diameter) in an area protected from harvest using spat-on-shell (“spat seeding”) from remotely set larvae. There was a consistent trend over time of higher oyster densities on the mini-reefs and on the natural reef within the protected area compared to the adjacent unprotected natural reef. At the end of the project period (1.8 years post-construction of the mini-reefs), total oyster densities in the overall restoration area were about 26% higher than the adjacent unprotected reef.

The constructed mini-reefs also consistently had higher total densities and biomass of resident animals, which consisted mainly of invertebrates, compared to the other reef areas. A total of 15 species of invertebrates were collected from the mini-reefs compared to 10 and 11 species, respectively, from the natural reef in the restored area and the natural reef in the harvested area. The resident macroalgae community patterns over time indicated higher biomass on the mini-reefs and the protected natural reefs compared to the unprotected reef area on most sampling dates, though there was typically wide variability among replicates. Macroalgal taxonomic richness was similar in all three areas, and there was a total of fourteen species collected from the three areas. Overall, the project resulted in enhancement of oyster reef habitat within the 0.5 hectare restoration area, and characterized the substantial value of oyster reefs in providing habitat for a variety of plant and animal species. Read Report


Local Estuaries in the News

Estuaries Face Serious Environmental Threats 10-16-09: NHPR - Every three years, the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership measures the environmental quality of both the Great Bay and the Hampton Seabrook Estuaries. ... read more

Piscataqua River to turn red from dye used in study 10-26-09: Seacoast Online - If they do (shift flow to Pease), we need to understand the impacts on the rest of the estuary. Right now, the flow (from the Pease plant) is relatively ... read more

Report indicates Seacoast estuaries show more pollution than in 2006 10-29-09: Foster's Daily Democrat - A new report from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) released Friday focuses on 11 of 12 environmental indicators that show negative or ... read more

Water worries 10-31-09: Concord Monitor - The Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership just published a study revealing that 11 of 12 environmental indicators, such as toxic contaminants in shellfish ... read more

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USFWS Panel Discussion
10-8-09: PREP staff participated in a panel discussion for over 100 US Fish and Wildlife Service retirees, hosted by the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Panelists discussed the ecology of the Great Bay Estuary and highlighted successful restoration efforts.

Impervious Surface Maps for Maine Communities
10-8-09: PREP published customized maps for the 10 Maine towns in the PREP study area. The maps illustrate 1990, 2000, and 2005 impervious surfaces, conservation lands identified in the Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds and the Land Conservation Plan for Maine’s Piscataqua Region Watersheds, roads, surface waters, and impervious surface summary statistics. See Maps

Signing Ceremony for Restoration Partnership
10-15-09: Staff attended an on-site celebration of the Winnicut Dam Removal/ River Restoration Project and the signing ceremony formalizing the Memorandum of Understanding between the organizations participating in the Partnership to Restore New Hampshire's Estuaries.
2009 State of the Estuaries Conference
10-16-09: At this conference, 207 attendees saw presentations on the newly-released 2009 State of the Estuaries Report and a variety of topics related to estuary management. During lunch, NHDES Commissioner Tom Burack and PREP Director Jennifer Hunter signed a Partnership Agreement to better coordinate activities of both organizations. See Conference Proceedings
Press Release: 2009 State of the Estuaries Report
10-20-09: Read Press Release
Taking Action for Wildlife Workshop
10-22-09: Staff attended a workshop on how municipalities can utilize the information provided in the NH Wildlife Action Plan to better protect critical wildlife habitat and rare species. The workshop was hosted by the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Review of Local Grant Proposals
10-28-09: A four-person review team, consisting of PREP Management Committee Members, evaluated the seven proposals submitted to the annual grant program. Grant recipients will be announced in November.

Stormwater Redevelopment Meeting
10-28-09: Staff participated in a new working group that will be developing recommended standards for stormwater management improvements on redevelopment sites. Currently, NHDES publishes a model ordinance with regulatory provisions that towns may adopt.

Climate Change Roundtable
10-29-09: PREP attended a forum hosted by Clean Air-Cool Planet and the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve that discussed compelling new information on projected sea level rise and national policy opportunities. More Information

Local Source Water Protection Grant Proposal Submitted to NHDES
10-29-09: PREP submitted a proposal to the NHDES Local Source Water Protection Grant Program. The proposal involves convening a Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative to better coordinate watershed planning approaches and priorities actions for implementation.

Upcoming Events

11-20 to 11-21-09: 2009 NH Joint Water and Watershed Conference Conference Overview

12-02-09: Learn to review LID design for Maine's Climate Workshop Overview and Registration Form .

12-04-09: PREP POET Meeting 9 a.m. - Noon, Location TBD

12-14-09: Southeast Watershed Alliance 6:30 p.m., Brentwood Community Center






To learn more about any meeting, publication, or future event, submit your question to our Contact Us web page.