Cooperatove Conservation Project

Great Bay Partnership Land and Waterfowl Conservation

Base Closure Proves to be a Boon to Communities and Wildlife

Location: Northeastern/Mid-Atlantic Region: New Hampshire

Project Summary: Using a partnership-developed conservation plan, nearly 7,000 acres of wetlands and uplands adjoining New Hampshire’s Great Bay estuary have been protected.
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Local High School teacher, Mark Pederson, helps with biological monitoring in preparation for a wetland restoration
Resource Challenge
When Pease Air Force Base on New Hampshire’s seacoast closed  under the military’s Base Closure process, it erased millions of  dollars from the local economy and left fear and confusion in  its wake. What would happen to the surrounding communities,  and what would happen to the 1,050 acres along Great Bay and  the nearly 4,000 acres once occupied by the base—the largest  undeveloped tract in the Great Bay estuary?
Conservationists worried that valuable waterfront property would  be developed, altering increasingly scarce coastal wetlands needed  by migratory waterfowl and other wildlife and fi sh. Communities,  despite their economic concerns, were also troubled by the loss of  open space in the state’s seacoast region, threatening the small town atmosphere and culture they enjoyed 
Examples of Key Partners
 New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game, The National Oceanic National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  National Estuarine Research Reserve System, USDI Fish and Wildlife  Service (FWS), USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S.  Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Nature Conservancy,  Ducks Unlimited, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire  Forests, Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Seacoast Land Trust,  Rockingham Land Trust, Strafford Rivers Conservancy, and 13  municipalities bordering Great Bay.
Results and Accomplishments
With the help of U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, then the State’s Governor, the former air base shoreline was designated a federal Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuge and included within the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) boundary. The establishment and timing of the designation served as a core area to build upon Great Bay conservation efforts.
A partnership of federal, state, local, and private interests  developed a conservation plan with input from communities  and numerous partners that identifi ed 26 project areas in the  watershed. To date, they have protected nearly 7,000 additional  acres of wetlands and uplands acquired either by donation or  from willing sellers, through conservation easements or outright  purchase. Many towns surrounding Great Bay have passed bonds  totaling almost $40 million for land acquisition to further preserve  their community character and open spaces. In many instances,  the value of these lands has then been used as a match to obtain  additional federal funds.
Congress has appropriated more than 50 million dollars to protect the Great Bay Estuary during the past ten years, supporting a  number of Coastal and Estuarine Land Protection (CELP) projects in the watershed.
The base’s remaining 4,000 acres are now a thriving industrial park, airport, and educational center.

Non-profit organizations, state and federal agencies, and communities are working together from the ground up to identify conservation priorities and preserve open space

Project Contact
Peter Wellenberger
Manager Great Bay NERR
NH Fish and Game Department



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