About Buffer Options for the Bay

Purpose: Support decisions involving buffers

Buffer Options for the Bay (BOB) is an informational resource intended to support policy and land use decisions in New Hampshire’s Great Bay region that involve  buffers, defined for this project as the naturally vegetated stretches of land directly upslope of a water resource, such as a lake, stream, river, pond, estuary, or wetland.
(See Buffer Basics.)

BOB was created through a collaboration of public, academic, and nonprofit organizations dedicated to leveraging the capacity of buffers to protect water quality, guard against storm surge and sea level rise, and sustain fish and wildlife in New Hampshire’s Great Bay region.

BOB can be used to inform a range of activities including land acquisition, management, and protection; restoration; community engagement and decision maker training; and policy making. While BOB will be of interest to many stakeholders, its primary purposes are to support technical assistance providers and educators who work with communities and landowners on buffers and to inform regulatory changes that integrate state and local perspectives.

Approach: Collect & integrate the best available information

BOB is the result of integrated policy assessment that engaged organizations representing a range of perspectives and professional expertise related to buffers in New Hampshire. (For more on integrated assessments, visit the NERRS Science Collaborative at the University of Michigan). This approach was selected to address a pervasive need for trusted, relevant information at every scale of buffer management—from decisions made by property owners at the water’s edge to those of state agencies and communities that set policy for what is permissible on that land.

Underpinning such decisions are tradeoffs that impact the economic vitality, environmental health, and community well being. To help decision makers navigate these tradeoffs and understand their options for action, the BOB team:

  • Aggregated existing data
  • Explored barriers and opportunities related to buffer science and management
  • Delineated regulatory and non-regulatory options for buffer management
  • Assessed ecosystem functions, services, and benefits arising from buffer protection
  • Quantified potential willingness to pay for management options based on water quality benefits
  • Assessed values, knowledge, and assumptions related to buffers at the community level

BOB was informed by an advisory committee of scientists, policy makers, municipal representatives, and outreach professionals who broadened the project team’s pool of knowledge and expertise, helped overcome bias, provided periodic input on progress, and helped ensure the utility of final products. The team also also conducted an external technical review on all project work plans and reports.

Results: Literature reviews, economic & policy analyses, maps, & more

Reports & Summaries

BOB generated a series of technical reports and summaries, each of which provides an in depth view of a different aspect of land use decisions involving buffers, these reports served as the foundation for this website. Explore and download these on the Reports Page.


The BOB team created a series of maps that used existing GIS data to support future management and science related to buffers. These maps identify areas where buffer protection/restoration or changes in policy would make the biggest impact on services including water quality, wildlife habitat, and storm surge protection. They are organized by community on the Maps Page.

Action Plan

To capture key gaps in existing knowledge and potential actions to address them, the BOB team created an evolving action plan that is supporting ongoing collaborations around the watershed. For more information, visit the Action Plan Page.

Team: Dozens of N.H. organizations & communities

Project Team

BOB engaged scientists, practioners, and program managers from a range of organizations in the state and the region.

NameFirst nameOrganizationJob title
BallesteroTomUniversity of New Hampshire Stormwater CenterTechnical Team
CoutureSteveN.H. Department of Environmental ServicesEnd User Representative
MillerSteveGreat Bay National Estuarine Research ReserveEngagement Team (lead)/End User
Barley-GreenfieldSimoneN.H. Department of Environmental ServicesPolicy Analysis
FlanaganSheaThe Nature ConservancyTechnical Team
JohnstonRobertClark UniversityTechnical Team
StevensRachelGreat Bay National Estuarine Research ReserveTechnical Team
StecklerPeteThe Nature ConservancyTechnical Team
StaceyPaulGreat Bay National Estuarine Research ReserveTechnical Team
Holt-ShannonMicheleUniversity of New Hampshire Stormwater CenterEngagement Team
TiltonMaryAnnN.H. Department of Environmental ServicesEnd User Representative
GraichenLisaUniversity of New Hampshire Sea GrantEngagement Team/Project Management and Communications support
MatsoKallePiscataqua Region Estuaries PartnershipEngagement Team (tech review)
HouleJamieUniversity of New HampshireTechnical Team
LeonardDoloresRoca CommunicationsProject Management and Communications Lead
BauerDanaN.H. Department of Environmental Services Technical Team
PatrickDavidThe Nature ConservancyTechnical Team (lead)/End User
RileyCoryGreat Bay National Estuarine Research ReserveProject Lead/End User

Advisory Committee

New Hampshire Audubon
New Hampshire Sea Grant/UNH Cooperative Extension
New Hampshire Rivers Council/naturesource communications
Southeast Watershed Alliance
Rockingham County Conservation District
Rockingham Regional Planning Commission
Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire
Strafford Regional Planning Commission
Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership
Town of Exeter, N.H.
Town of Hampton, N.H.
United States Army Corps of Engineers
University of New Hampshire
Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve

Technical Review Panel 

NameFirst nameOrganizationJob title
BirdSteveCity of Dover, NH
City Planner
DeelyAnneNeatline AssociatesPresident
FerdanaZachThe Nature ConservancyLead Coastal Resilience Manager
KlineMikeVermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Rivers ProgramProgram Manager
MineauMadeleineCity of Nashua, NHWaterways Manager
PatersonRobert W.Industrial Economics, Inc.Principal
WaingerLisaUniversity of Maryland Center for Environmental ScienceResearch Professor
WilsonFionaUniversity of New HampshireAssociate Professor of Social Innovation, Social Entrepreneurship and Sustainability

Website Development

Roca Communications+

Website Design

Studio NACL

Website Photography

Thanks so very much to the talented photographers who shared their work for use across this website: Emily Lord, Steve Miller, Don Kierstead, Karen Dudley & New Hampshire NRCS.

Funder: We are grateful to our sponsor!

BOB was sponsored by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative, which supports collaborative research that addresses coastal management problems important to reserves and their communities. The Science Collaborative is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the University of Michigan Water Center.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration