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February 21, 2013

The State of the Great Bay Estuary

BRENTWOOD - Come learn about the health of the Great Bay at a presentation on the State of the Estuary by the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Project on Mon., February 25, at 7:00 p.m., at the Brentwood Recreation Center, located at 190 Route 125 in Brentwood. The event is co-sponsored by the Brentwood Conservation Commission, Exeter Conservation Commission, Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire, the Great Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the Exeter-Squamscott River Local Advisory Committee.

An estuary is where the fresh water of rivers meets the saltwater from the sea; it’s a place of high ecological activity and beauty. With miles of the Exeter River running through it, as well as large portions of Dudley Brook and the Little River, Brentwood has a critical role in maintaining and improving the health of the Great Bay Estuary.

The Great Bay Estuary stretches all the way from the mouth of the Piscataqua River up to Wakefield, and Acton, ME, and out to Deerfield and Candia, covering 1,087 square miles, 52 towns drain into it and it’s home to 25% of New Hampshire’s population. There are seven main fresh water rivers that drain into the Great Bay Estuary and numerous smaller rivers, streams and creeks. All this water flows into Little Bay and Great Bay and then down the Piscataqua River and out into the Gulf of Maine. A stick dropped up in Chester could possibly end up flowing past Brentwood’s shores! What also can end up flowing past Brentwood’s shores is the pollution from upstream and that’s becoming a problem facing our entire Seacoast community.

On December 7th, the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, a local science based environmental organization out of UNH, released its 2013 State of Our Estuaries Report. This report is developed every 3 years and it’s like a report card for the estuary. It looks at 22 indicators of health for the estuary and measures each as positive, cautionary or negative. This year’s report shows that stresses like the amount of impervious surface (parking lots, roadways and roofs) and nutrient/nitrogen loading are impacting the health of our estuary and are increasing, and there is reason to be concerned. The conditions in the estuary such as the amount of oysters, clams and eelgrass are in decline and nuisance algae plants are on the rise. These are all vital signs of how healthy our environment is and they are all showing us that the time to act is now.

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