Recently released high resolution tidal wetland habitat data for the state is available on the University of NH’s “Coastal Viewer”, an online mapping service available at nhcoastalviewer.org. It is a free, clickable easy-to-use web application that allows custom maps to be created for any area of interest.
Breaking the “sea of green” into fourteen different habitat categories, this product is intended as a baseline for monitoring changes in salt marsh extent and health. It was created by NOAA’s Office of Coastal Management, stewardship staff at the Reserve, and the NH Coastal Program. It primarily used elevation data combined with imagery acquired by the Piscataqua Regional Estuaries Partnership. Its accuracy was assessed by extensive field verification from staff at the Reserve and Coastal Program. The plan is to update this mapping product on a revolving 10 year cycle to allow us to detect change and compare actual change to predictive models currently in use.
Tidal wetland systems are important transitional habitats between the ocean and land. Salt marshes in particular provide essential functions for people. They support healthy fisheries, protect shorelines from erosion, reduce flooding, enhance water quality, and provide essential fish and wildlife habitat.
GIS users can download the high resolution habitat data via UNH’s server using this link. Layers 39 and 40 are a detailed and simplified version of the data.
-Rachel Stevens, Stewardship Coordinator