Portsmouth, NH – Today, the New Hampshire Coastal Program at the Department of Environmental Services selected three land conservation projects for consideration for Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) funding – Isinglass River conservation corridor in Strafford, the Exeter River protection project in Brentwood, and Great Bay drainage project in Lee. These proposals will go on to a group of reviewers at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), who will decide which will make the national priority list. Then, depending on funding availability, Congress selects the winning projects, and recipients are notified in October, 2007.
As land becomes increasingly rare, Seacoast towns look to the federal CELCP to fund local land protection efforts. CELCP, a tremendously competitive program where states vie for space on a national priority list, aims to protect coastal lands with significant ecological value.
The Coastal Program received five project proposals to consider, requesting CELCP funding totaling $12,266,500 million to protect 2,965 acres of land. To qualify, land had to be located within the 42 coastal watershed towns and provide a one to one match.
"The level of quality of the proposals was extraordinary," said Ted Diers, Coastal Program manager. "I’m sure that they will compete well in the national contest," he added.
Under CELCP, each of the 34 states with coastal management programs can submit up to three proposals at no more than $3 million apiece. Although CELCP gives priority to land with significant ecological value, other factors such as threat of immediate development, and aesthetic, recreation and historic values influence a project’s score.
Successful projects must also demonstrate that landowners are willing to participate and that the projects are ready to roll. Lastly, proposals showing tie-in to state, regional and local plans get more weight.
In addition to adherence to local plans, the CELCP process requires states to develop a CELCP plan in order to be eligible to nominate projects. The Land Conservation Plan for New Hampshire’s Coastal Watersheds, released in August, was initiated by the Coastal Program and NH Estuaries Project to help fulfill that requirement, and it will serve as the foundation of the state’s CELCP plan. The Society for the Protection of NH Forests, The Nature Conservancy, and the Strafford and Rockingham regional planning commissions were all major players in the development of that plan.
New Hampshire CELCP proposals for consideration for funding for fiscal year 2008:
- The Isinglass River conservation corridor in Strafford, submitted by the town of Strafford with the Trust for the Public Land for $1.3 million, would protect 315 acres, including significant river frontage.
- The Exeter River protection project, submitted by the town of Brentwood for $2.435 million, which would protect 367 acres of land and help complete a protected greenway along the Exeter River.
- The Great Bay drainage project, submitted by the town of Lee for $2,821,250, would protect 570 acres of sensitive watershed in Lee.
The New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) is a federally approved coastal program authorized under the Coastal Zone Management Act and is administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. NHCP strives to maintain a balance between the use and preservation of coastal resources. Through partnerships, funding and science, NHCP works to improve water quality and decision making in 42 coastal watershed communities; supports maritime uses; and restores coastal wetlands.