Assessing wetland encroachments in the Piscataquog Watershed

Todd, Robert B.
Michael Simpson, MS
Department of Environmental Studies
The New Hampshire Wetlands Board considers fill and dredge applications on a town by town basis. Conservation Commissions in the Piscataquog River watershed respond to the applications from a very local perspective. No consideration is given to overall hydrologic systems in the watershed. A continuation of this approach may lead to an excessive loss of wetland benefits and functions in the long run. The author’s work entitled “Assessing Wetland Encroachments in The Piscataquog Watershed: A Conservation Commission’s Guide In Response to NHRSA 482-A Applications” presents a method for a consistent, scientific and holistic approach to the permitting process under the law. The method names the Piscataquog Watershed Association (PWA) as the initiating party in establishing protocol for response to applications. The PWA is expected to provide training in used of the method, to provide some technical assistance to users, and to analyze long range affects of wetland encroachments through development of watershed “build-out” maps. Successful implementation should result in better decision making with respect to promoting land use management and regulation programs that will minimize the loss of wetland values. The guide has been developed from methods in use and accepted by those practicing the discipline of wetland science. The key to determine the wetland type has been modified from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife method of classification. A Wetland Function Prediction Matrix has been modified from the New Hampshire Method” and “Wet I & II”. The Wetland Impact Prediction Matrix uses the above sources and standard environmental impact analysis methods. Emphasis has been placed on simplicity, while minimizing scientific compromise. The guide leads the user through the steps necessary to result in a report to the N.H. Wetlands Board which will be consistent with reports from conservation commissions in other watershed towns. The resulting report will also be backed by defensible opinion based upon inferences from thought processes encouraged through use of the guide.

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