The health of the Great Bay Estuary is strongly influenced by stressors from across the watershed. Seven rivers flow into the estuary, which is recessed 15 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. While science and case studies clearly demonstrate the value of vegetated buffers along these rivers in promoting a healthy estuary, New Hampshire does not yet consistently or effectively use buffers to protect the Great Bay Estuary. A 2015 Integrated Assessment project led by Great Bay Reserve enhanced stakeholder capacity to make informed decisions on the protection and restoration of buffers around the Great Bay Estuary by addressing the following question: What are the options for addressing the challenges to effectively protect and restore buffer zones around New Hampshire’s Great Bay?
Nicknamed Buffer Options for the Bay or "BOB," the project conducted: literature reviews of the natural science, economic, and social science aspects of buffer management; an analysis of the state's regulatory and non-regulatory policy options for buffer management; an economic analysis of the values placed on water quality benefits provided by buffers; a GIS analysis emphasizing buffers in the Great Bay region; a synthesis of New Hampshire's takings law; and an assessment of the barriers and opportunities related to buffer management at the community level in the Exeter-Squamscott subwatershed. This final report includes a summary of the project's findings and its collaborative process, as well as the individual products outlined above. The content of this report has also been integrated into an online framework.