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Landscape Initiatives

NRCS has implemented a broad spectrum of initiatives since January of 2009. These initiatives enable NRCS to more effectively address priority natural resource concerns by delivering systems of practices, primarily to the most vulnerable lands within geographic focus areas.

New Hampshire NRCS Landscape Conservation Initiative:

Drinking Water Partnership Areas Map  

New Hampshire Drinking Water Improvement Partnership         

Project Partners

Natural Resources Conservation Service – Provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners in the identified watersheds.  Offers conservation planning alternatives to install Best Management Practices which directly improve surface drinking water sources.

Forest Service – White Mountain National Forest - Acts as leader on public lands, technical and financial assistance for project work on public lands.

New Hampshire Association of Conservation Districts – Provides outreach, meetings, targeted contacts, and local support to organize the efforts.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Provides outreach, identifies priority areas, provides oversight and conduct evaluation.

NH Department of Environmental Services – Conducts water quality monitoring and testing, staffing, outreach, prioritization, GIS functions, and provides small grants program match.

New Hampshire Association of Conservation Commissions – Makes local contacts with town conservation commissions, provides outreach, community support, and local funding.

Granite State Rural Water Association – Creates Source Water Protection Plans with the communities, provides outreach, organization, and conducts water quality monitoring.

Society for the Protection of NH Forests – Easement specialists, provides local match for NRCS easement programs.

The Nature Conservancy – Staffing to identify priority areas, outreach, and monitoring.

Trout Unlimited – Staffing to monitor populations, and provide outreach.

More than half (56 percent) of America’s forests are privately owned and managed, and provide a vast array of benefits including; clean water, timber, wildlife habitat, and recreation.  These important benefits are being affected by increased housing density in urban, as well as rural areas across the country.  New Hampshire is second in the country (behind Maine) in the percentage of population served by private wells. Many private wells have water quality issues related to land use, forestry activities, agriculture, pollution, that have only be exacerbated by climate change and increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.  New Hampshire has the fastest growing population in New England today.  It has 3 of the top 4 watersheds in the country projected to experience the most change in water quality as a result of increasing housing density on private forest lands.  There are currently many efforts underway providing access to conservation efforts for agricultural and forest landowners utilizing NRCS financial assistance programs.  Work on adjacent public lands to reduce sedimentation and improve resiliency in headwater streams will be the focus of Forest Service efforts.  This project will promote healthy, working forests and agricultural lands, while protecting the community-based drinking water supply.  It will also aim to improve wildlife habitat in the project areas.

The project has  a direct impact on improving drinking water quality for 8 New Hampshire communities, as well as, increasing community support for private and public lands conservation, and an improved economy from healthy and productive working lands in both the forest and agricultural sectors.

Additional financial resources allows NH NRCS and our conservation partners to focus on the planning and installation of BMP’s which support drinking water quality improvements, improved wildlife habitat and water quality, and accelerate land protection efforts in the small watersheds with large numbers of drinking water withdrawal sites identified.

Funding for public lands (WMNF) increases the pace of restoration from the impacts of poorly sited and improperly installed infrastructure (culverts, bridges, dams, trails and roads), makes improvements related to storm damage from recent extreme weather events, reduces the impacts of non-native and invasive species and improves the hydrologic and biological function of streams and wetlands in headwaters above public drinking water sites.

Ranking Tool

National Water Quality Initiative

Sugar River NWQI area

Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative

Ranking Tool

Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership 


Through these initiatives, NRCS seeks to accomplish: 

  • Conservation beyond boundaries—Landscape-scale natural resource concerns, such as species conservation and water quality, cannot be treated effectively based on geo-political boundaries.  NRCS recognizes that natural resource concerns transcend farm, county, and state boundaries.
  • A science-based approach—Findings from the multi-agency Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) indicate the most effective way to increase protection of natural resources is to target conservation to the most vulnerable or valuable areas and to apply a systems rather than a practice-by-practice approach.  Within individual initiatives, the best available university and government science resources are used to define initiative targeting approaches.

  • Build on existing locally-led efforts and partnerships—NRCS seeks to maximize the success of initiatives by leveraging partner interest and resources through programmatic and other tools.

  • Regulatory certainty for agricultural producers—Where applicable, NRCS is working with regulators so agricultural producers can have certainty that the voluntary conservation systems they implement are consistent with current and potential regulation, as well as sustained agricultural production.