The Partnership’s comprehensive approach to conservation is guided by land conservation and stewardship goals:
Wetland Ecosystems and Significant Habitats. To protect, enhance, restore, and manage an appropriate distribution and diversity of wetland ecosystems and other habitats essential and significant for the protection of water quality of Great Bay and wildlife including migratory birds, fish, shellfish and other wildlife.
Migratory Bird Populations. To maintain or improve current distributions of waterfowl and other migratory bird populations, and to help maintain optimum population levels, distributions, and patterns of migration.
Exemplary Natural Communities and Habitats. To protect, enhance, restore, and mange exemplary natural and characteristic natural communities and habitats for rare, threatened, and endangered species of animals, plants, and natural communities.
Working Landscape. To protect farm and forest land that provides both important sustainable economic and ecological benefits and help ensure that these lands continue to be managed on a sustainable basis that provides multiple conservation values and supports other Conservation Goals of the Partnership.
Landscape Stewardship and Management. To manage conservation properties within a landscape perspective that respects the integrity and diversity of the entire ecosystem, promotes shared management guidelines and fosters management collaboration among conservation landowners.
Water Quality. Through land conservation and stewardship achieve and maintain the water quality and quantity necessary to support the aquatic living resources of the Great Bay and its tributaries within the Coastal Watershed and to protect human health.
Recreational and Educational Opportunities. To protect natural areas that are important for aesthetic purposes and provide for quality public recreational and educational opportunities that are compatible with the protection of the other Conservation Goals of the Partnership.
Great Bay - At the Heart of the Watershed
The coastal watershed of New Hampshire and Maine supports significant natural, recreational, scenic and cultural resources. Located in the Gulfof Maine watershed, the coastal watershed consists of 1,023 square miles, and includes nine major rivers, 12 sub-watersheds, and two estuaries of national significance. With a population of 377,427 (2010 Census), the coastal watershed has consistently been identified over the past three decades as one of the fastest growing regions in New England.
At the heart of the watershed is Great Bay, a widely recognized estuarine ecosystem of local, regional, state and national significance. The Great Bay estuary has been designated a conservation priority by the National Estuarine Research Reserve, Important Bird Area, N.H. Wildlife Action Plan, North American Wetland Conservation Plan (International Focus Area), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s N.H. Resource Protection Project. The inland location of the Great Bay estuary, formed by the outflow of five rivers and bringing a tidal flush of salt water from the Atlantic Ocean, makes it unique among northeastern seaboard estuaries. Internationally recognized, it provides critical North American waterfowlbreeding, migration and wintering habitat for more than 20 species of migratory waterfowl species. Great Bay winters 83% of all coastal waterfowl in the state. In addition, the estuary’s rich aquatic wildlife habitats and unusual biodiversity supports more than 150 rare species and 55 exemplary natural communities and ecosystems. A comprehensive approach to conservation incorporates the protection and management of these special natural resources along with the protection of the region’s productive working landscape of farms and forests.
About the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership
The Great Bay Partnership was one of New England’s first regional partnerships to form in 1994. The recipient of two Environmental Merit Awards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1997, 2007) the Partnership was recognized for its commitment, ingenuity and success in protecting ecologically important lands and preserving the region's environment.
The Partnership consists of conservation organizations representing regional, state and federal agencies, municipalities, and land trusts serving the region. The Partnership operates as a voluntary collaborative under the facilitative direction of the Great Bay Coordinator. The Nature Conservancy, NH Chapter, and Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests serve as fiscal agents. Partner organizations provide expertise to accomplish conservation projects.
The Partnership’s formation originated from the approval of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan by the United States, Canada, Mexico (1986). The plan designated the Great Bay Focus Area within the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture Flyway as a priority habitat area for waterfowl wintering, migration and production. In 1994, the Partnership submitted the first of seven successful NAWCA grants, launching its land conservation program in the Great Bay region.
The Partnership has utilized a variety of funding sources for its conservation planning, land conservation and stewardship programs. Projects are financially leveraged with a variety of funding sources including federal and state programs, municipal funds, foundation grants, landowner contributions, private donations, and in-kind staff support from Partner organizations. The Nature Conservancy, NH Chapter and the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests provide fiscal agent services on behalf of the Partnership.