Conservation Lands (General)
How much of the land in the 52 communities that make up the Piscataqua Region is permanently conserved or considered public lands?
There has been 130,302 acres conserved as of May 2017 that is 15.5% of the total land area in the 52-town Piscataqua Region. This represents an increase of 5% (41,555 acres) in new land area coming under conservation since 2011. Focusing on the 22 coastal communities in the Piscataqua region, 49,918 acres of land have been conserved to date. That represents 19.6% of the land area in those 22 towns, and is approaching the PREP goal of 20%.
Our region is under pressure from population growth and associated development (see Housing Permit Approvals). Conserving a network of natural lands across the region is the most effective action to take to ensure clean water, healthy and abundant wildlife populations, to minimize flood damages and to provide a diversity of quality, recreational opportunities.
The percentage of conserved land area protected in each town is shown in Figure 17.1. As of 2017, 18 communities have greater than 20% conserved lands, and 9 communities have between 15-20% conserved lands. Overall, conservation lands have increased across most of the region, but there are still communities where conservation lands as a total percentage of the municipality’s land area is below 5% (yellow). Figures 17.1 and 17.2 (HUC-12 analysis) highlight areas where conservation efforts have been significant (+30% of total land area) and these include Great Bay, Exeter-Squamscott, Lamprey River, Oyster River, Pawtuckaway Pond and Scamen Brook-Little River. Conversely, areas where conserved lands are lower include the Cocheco, Salmon Falls, Bog Brook-Little River and Great Works River.
Recent progress suggests the region can meet PREP’s goal of 20% of the watershed conserved. Although the 22 coastal communities are very close at 19.6%, region-wide an additional 37,700 acres will need to be conserved in order to achieve the goal.