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(Photo: Nathalie Morison, 2016)
UNH Cooperative Extension works to help New Hampshire communities to prepare for the impacts of a changing climate, including flooding, sea level rise, rising temperatures, and increased storms. These changes will create a number of challenges for our state, from damaged infrastructure and changing habitat suitability for wildlife and fish, to changing growing seasons for local agriculture, increased drought, spread of invasive species and pests, changing winter conditions for timber harvesting as well as recreational activities, and growing challenges to the maple syrup industry. Many New Hampshire communities are already taking steps to address vulnerabilities and improve their resilience in the face of change, from developing climate change master plan chapters and updating freeboard requirements in local zoning to developing hazard mitigation plans, restoring dunes, and implementing high-water mark signage to raise awareness about flooding.
Here are some examples of our climate-related work:
NH Setting SAIL: To begin implementing the recommendations from the NH Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission (CRHC) Report, UNH Cooperative Extension and NH Sea Grant are working with several partners on a new project called NH Setting SAIL. The project includes three main components: 1) Education and outreach to municipal stakeholders to relay the CRHC recommendations and obtain input on community priorities; 2) Support for municipal implementation, including a climate adaptation chapter for the City of Dover’s Master Plan and technical assistance grants for the other nine Great Bay coastal municipalities; and 3) State coordination and an assessment of vulnerable state assets. Other project partners include NH Department of Environmental Services, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Rockingham Planning Commission, and Strafford Regional Planning Commission. This project is funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Coastal Zone Management Projects of Special Merit program.
Climate in the Classroom: This program is focused on educating middle school students about climate change and providing opportunities for them to bring that information back to their parents. Students learn about the difference between weather and climate, the effect of human activities on the earth’s climate, and ways to take action. The program culminates in a community event where students present what they've learned to an audience of family members and municipal board members and staff. Read the Fosters and NH Sea Grant articles about the Climate in the Classroom program conducted with Oyster River Middle School fifth graders in 2016, and stay tuned to hear about the program with Lincoln Akerman sixth graders later this spring!
Water, Weather, Climate, and Community: Extension and other partners educate community leaders, provide networking opportunities, and identify local needs through this workshop series.
Preparing for Climate Change: “Preparing for Climate Change really helped our community get more engaged in thinking about climate adaptation strategies,” said Kim Reed, Town of Rye Planning and Zoning Administrator. Art Reed, Police Chief and Deputy Emergency Manager in Newfields, credited the program with building the support he needed to get a discounted generator program started in town to help residents prepare for storm-related outages. Preparing for Climate Change is one of several community outreach programs that CAW uses to educate and engage municipal boards, staff, and residents in identifying priorities and developing strategies for climate adaptation. Since 2012, CAW has successfully worked with six coastal communities to implement this program.
We work with the NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (CAW), a partnership of 22 organizations working collaboratively to assist communities in NH's coastal watershed to prepare for the impacts of extreme weather and long-term climate change by providing resources, facilitation, and guidance that enhance readiness and resilience. You can connect to the CAW newsletter, read the Crow's Nest blog for the latest news, and find information about upcoming and past workshops and events.
USDA Northeast Climate Hub: UNH Cooperative Extension is collaborating with the USDA Northeast Climate Hub, one of ten regional climate hubs, to deliver science-based knowledge and practical information to farmers and forest landowners throughout the state.
Check out the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) to learn more about communities' adaptation efforts further inland!
To find out more about the Climate Adaptation Program, contact Lisa Graichen, Climate Adaptation Program Coordinator, (603) 862-2356 or email email@example.com