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State Facts

Miles of Coast: 131

Coastal Population (2000): 418,366

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Environmental Services

Approval Date: 1982

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Ocean and Coastal Management in New Hampshire

New Hampshire's Coastal Program

a photo of NH Bay

New Hampshires' Coastal Program supports towns in their efforts to improve land use to protect natural resources, improve water quality, and enhance the quality of life in their community

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services leads and implements the state's Coastal Program.  The Coastal Program is a networked program where several state agencies help enforce the Coastal Program’s 16 coastal policies and review projects within the New Hampshire coastal zone—the state's 17 coastal municipalities. The University of New Hampshire, non-governmental organizations, local communities, the regional planning commissions. and other stakeholder groups also participate in New Hampshire's Coastal Program.

The Coastal Program initially gained federal approval in 1982 for the areas next to the Atlantic Ocean and the lower Piscataqua River. In 1988, the Coastal Program added areas bordering the Great Bay and tidal rivers. In 2004, the landward boundary was again expanded to encompass all 17 municipalities along tidal waters.

The mission of the Coastal Program is to “balance the preservation of natural resources of the coast with the social and economic needs of this and succeeding generations.” To accomplish its mission, the Coastal Program focuses on preventing and abating coastal pollution, providing public access to coastal lands and waters, fostering community stewardship and awareness of coastal resources, protecting and restoring coastal natural resources, and encouraging a viable economy with adequate infrastructure.

New Hampshire’s National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve encompasses 5,280 acres along Great Bay in the southeastern corner of New Hampshire. The Reserve was designated in 1989 and has a rich history of supporting many diverse uses dependent on the estuarine environment and resources. The University of New Hampshire’s Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, located within the Reserve, offers opportunities for ongoing research and monitoring. Educational activities at the Reserve focus on special tours, a summer lecture series, interpretive kayak programs, and outreach programs for both adult audiences and school children.

Program Achievements

New Hampshire Beach Clean Up Programs

New Hampshire Builds Local Capacity to Reduce Nonpoint Source Pollution


New Hampshire Coastal Program — The website provides information on the Program including information on its permitting, coastal planning and technical assistance programs.

Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve — The Reserve’s website provides information on their many research, education, and stewardship activities.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Delaware.

New Hampshire Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional and Final Approval Documents — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality experts to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone. The state received full approval in 2001.

New Hampshire Coastal Program Evaluation (2007) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2011) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

New Hampshire Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Contact Information for New Hampshire’s Programs

NH Dept. Environmental Services
NH Coastal Program
222 International Drive Suite 175
Portsmouth NH 03801
(603) 559-1500

Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
225 Main Street
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 868-1095