Communities Partner with Planning Commissions

Amanda Stone, UNH Cooperative Extension

When the request for proposals came from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) in 2015, the Somersworth Conservation Commission knew what they wanted to do. They saw an opportunity to get their Natural Resources Inventory done with the help of Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC). The proposal they submitted together with SRPC was funded and they got to work.

The foundation of the 2016 Somersworth Natural Resources Assessment (NRA) is a map-based Habitat maps are available for all New Hampshire towns through the NH Fish & Game Wildlife Action Plan website.Geographic Information Systems (GIS) inventory of the City’s existing natural resources.  Six primary natural resource maps were developed to display and analyze topography, agricultural resources, water resources, conservation and unfragmented lands, habitats and the highest ranked habitat areas identified in the 2015 NH Wildlife Action Plan (WAP). A build-out analysis was conducted to map and identify areas of the City where potential future development may occur. The final step of the NRA was the creation of a co-occurrence map showing the locations of multiple key natural resources to help identify the most important areas to protect.

The Natural Resources Assessment was developed through an iterative process. The Conservation Commission and City staff were highly involved in this process and reviewed and helped to refine the maps, analysis, and recommendations. The Somersworth NRA provides a great example of the wildlife chapter, which documents the Wildlife Action Plan habitats and highest ranked habitats in town. The Taking Action for Wildlife team is now busy working with Somersworth to help them work on a plan for protecting valuable habitats and other areas in town using conservation easements.


This map shows the locations of multiple key natural resources to help identify the most important areas to protect

In early 2016, the town of Epping started working with the Taking Action for Wildlife team to explore how they could incorporate data and information from the Wildlife Action Plan into their conservation planning documents. Their Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) was outdated and in need of an overhaul. Recognizing that they needed an updated NRI to move forward with conservation planning, and that they didn’t have the time and resources to write it themselves, they reviewed the list of potential consultants provided on the Taking Action for Wildlife website.

As with Somersworth, Epping decided to partner with their regional planning commission – Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC). They worked with RPC to identify their goals for the NRI and discussed what they wanted to see included. The NRI project is now underway with RPC in the lead and will be completed the first half of 2017. As soon as the NRI is completed, we will post it on the Taking Action for Wildlife Stories page! In early 2017, the Taking Action for Wildlife team will participate in a work session with the Epping Conservation Commission to start identifying priorities for protection using the Wildlife Action Plan maps.

Are you interested in assistance from the Taking Action for Wildlife Team?  Take a look at the 2017 application details on the Taking Action website and send in an application.