NHANRS Wetland Buffer Scientific Workgroup


Lawrence Morse

Legislative Committee Chair

The New Hampshire Association of Natural Resource Scientists (NHANRS) Legislative Committee has been active in the legislative review of HB 349 by the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee (Committee).  HB 349 was conceived to implement the recommendations of the Land Use Commission (2010) (Commission) as they relate to wetland buffers and the assessment of indirect impacts to wetlands. HB 349 was “Laid on the Table” at the March 12, 2015 session of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which allows the bill to be  brought up in the next session for consideration.

NHANRS Legislative Committee and Board of Directors have agreed that a thorough understanding and documentation of the science relating to wetland buffers is required. More specifically, a review of the NH Method (Method) and potential alternative assessment methodologies that determine wetland value and associated buffer needs has been identified as requisite for continued discussion of HB 349. NHANRS offered to host a science based workgroup to accomplish this goal and has established the Wetland Buffer Scientific Workgroup (Workgroup). The Workgroup operates under the supervision of NHANRS Board of Directors through its Legislative Committee with Dr. Rick Van de Poll serving as its Chair. In addition to Rick, NHANRS members that have volunteered to serve on the Workgroup include Larry Morse, Peter Walker, Cindy Balcius, Tracy Tarr and Matt Urban.  Collis Adams and Mary Ann Tilton are representing the Department of Environmental Services with assistance from others in the department as appropriate.

The Workgroup completed its first meeting on April 29, 2015 and has scheduled monthly meetings through August of this year. Objectives of the workgroup have been divided into two phases, with Phase I accomplishing tasks mentioned above with a goal of completing this phase by the end of August of this year.  Phase II would develop recommendations incorporating the Phase I findings into a regulatory framework and will likely seek input from other stakeholders in that process. The Workgroup fully recognizes that the regulatory application must be science-based, yet flexible, implementable by DES, and acceptable by the various stakeholder groups.

NHANRS anticipates that as the process moves along, this subject will likely be the main topic of a future NHANRS membership meeting. In the meantime, the Workgroup is seeking assistance from our membership and others to help the workgroup compile an up-to-date data set of assessments completed using the NH Method.  If you have knowledge of the Method being used to assess wetland functions and values associated with a project and or town wide inventory, please contact Rick Van de Poll at rickvdp@gmail.com . Links to the NH Method web site and the spreadsheet used with the assessment are listed below for your use. The more data we can compile will result in a better assessment of the appropriate use of the methodology.  The Workgroup is also looking at scientific literature that focuses on wetland buffers.  To encourage knowledge of wetland buffers among our membership and the general public, a document library will be created within the NHANRS web site for reference purposes.

Read the June 13, 2017 Final NHANRS Scientific Wetland Buffer Report


NH Method

Spreadsheet: NH Method 2013 Excel Spreadsheet – Resource – UNH Cooperative Extension

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