Wetlands State Resource Locator

State Wetlands Information Tool (SWIFT)


New Hampshire

Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.

Primary State Wetlands Web Page. This web page should explain the state wetlands program and provide links to various wetlands resources.

Construction Permit Process - State Rules

    How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by New Hampshire? The Department of Environmental Services (DES) regulates activities within wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has created a New Hampshire State Programmatic General Permit that allows many projects approved by the state to proceed under a streamlined federal review. There are also expedited procedures for minimum impact projects when specific conditions are meet.

    Mitigation Measures. New Hampshire has a no net loss policy. The project incorporates appropriate and practicable compensatory mitigation for each of the wetland functions. Off-site compensation of a wetland function, except mitigation for lost flood storage capacity, shall be considered if the applicant shows, and the department finds, that: (1) The wetland function cannot be compensated on-site; or attempting to compensate on-site would have adverse affect on the value of other wetlands functions, the ecological value of adjacent environments, or the public health or safety; and (2) The off-site compensation provides equal or greater value for that function than the value lost as a result of the proposed project.

Regulatory Definitions
    Wetlands. A wetland is an area "inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal conditions does support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions."

    Wetland Categories. DES distinguishes specific areas that it calls prime wetlands from other wetlands in the state. A prime wetland is any area falling within DES's jurisdiction that possesses one or more of the characteristics the Department has attributed to wetlands and, because of its size or other important factors, has substantial significance. The jurisdictional definitions referred to include any "bank, flat, marsh or swamp in and adjacent to any waters of the state." Municipalities can map their prime wetlands, which, if adopted by the legislative body, requires DES to deny any dredge and fill permit affecting a mapped prime wetland unless "clear and convincing" evidence exists to determine that the proposed development activity will not result in "the significant net loss" of the prime wetland's values.

    Regulated Wetland Activities. Persons cannot excavate, remove, fill, dredge or construct any structures in or on any bank, flat, swamp, or marsh without a permit from DES.

    Exempt Wetland Activities. No permit is needed when a regulated activity is performed by police or fire vehicles, vehicles used in case of emergency, authorized maintenance vehicles, or vehicles used by commercial fishermen or lobstermen. Other activities, such as, repair or construction of a legal structure and the cutting of certain vegetation, are not regulated.

Wetland Regulatory Background Information Organizations/Non-Government Programs
  • Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.

  • Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.

  • Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.

  • Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.

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