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Summary of State Agency Action

In 2009, the state released its New Hampshire Climate Action Plan (“2009 Plan”). The Plan includes approximately 33 discrete goals related to climate change adaptation. These goals and subsequent state actions, including the 2016 report on Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-level Rise, and Extreme Precipitation, cover the following sectors: biodiversity, coasts and oceans, forestry, infrastructure, public health, and water. This page describes some of the progress New Hampshire agencies are achieving related to each of these sectors.

Agriculture

New Hampshire’s 2009 Plan does not include any specific adaptation goals or actions that relate to agriculture.

Biodiversity

Goals in New Hampshire’s 2009 Plan related to biodiversity include assembling a statewide database and inventory of natural systems and resources; and developing a method for prioritizing what ecosystems and resources the state or local governments should restore and protect.

To implement these goals, in 2013, the Fish and Game Department updated its Wildlife Action Plan, Ecosystems and Wildlife: Climate Change Adaptation Plan, to consider impacts from climate change. The department is also engaged in analyzing the effects of climate change on state species, like moose and others accustomed to living in colder northern habitats.

In 2016, New Hampshire passed Senate Bill (SB) 376-FN, which requires the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to identify existing and needed wildlife corridors that can connect habitats throughout the state to enhance wildlife resilience to climate change impacts and development. To implement these requirements, the department hosted public meetings to discuss opportunities to create wildlife corridors through easements and cooperative management agreements.

 

Coasts & Oceans

Although not explicitly cited in any goals in the 2009 Plan, the state is undertaking many climate adaptation actions in the coastal sector. Acting on the New Hampshire Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission’s (NHCRHC) recommendations in its 2016 final report, the New Hampshire Coastal Program (NHCP) obtained funding to implement the New Hampshire Setting SAIL (Science, Assessment, Implementation, and Legislation Recommendations) project, discussed in more detail on the Supporting Local Action page.

Representatives from the Department of Environmental Services served on NHCRHC and oversaw the development of the NHCRHC’s 2016 final report, which assessed sea-level rise impacts to the state’s economy, built environment, natural resources, and cultural heritage. The report also included detailed recommendations for agency action and legislative changes that could be made to enhance the state’s resilience to sea-level rise, including using best-available science in state plans, programs and policies, and local ordinances; enhancing the resilience of structures and facilities; and protecting and restoring the state’s natural resources. The state has also been funding projects to enhance coastal resilience, such as pilot living shoreline and oyster restoration projects in the Great Bay Estuary.

Forestry

Goals related to forestry overlap with those for biodiversity more broadly and include assembling a statewide database inventory of natural systems and resources; and developing a method for prioritizing what ecosystems and resources the state or local governments should restore and protect.

In 2010, the Division of Forests and Lands finalized the New Hampshire Forest Resource Strategies, a part of the state’s Forest Resources Plan, which calls for forest managers to assess and better understand climate-related threats, including fire and invasive species, and create strategies to protect forests from these threats while sustaining their environmental (e.g., ecosystem services, carbon sequestration) and economic benefits.

Infrastructure

Goals related to infrastructure primarily recommend legislative actions to: prohibit development in vulnerable areas; create tax incentives for businesses to install energy efficient features; and allow communities to create and enforce more stringent land-use requirements and building codes, particularly for development in floodplains. The 2009 Plan also recommends that the state provide the necessary financial and human resources to support these efforts.

In 2014, the New Hampshire Department of Transportation published a report on the Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation Infrastructure in the state. This report summarizes the state’s assets, programs, policies, and activities and their vulnerabilities to climate through the end of the 21st century.

Then, in 2016, the Maine and New Hampshire Departments of Transportation worked together to study future sea-level rise and storm surge impacts on portions of state coastal highways and to develop green infrastructure solutions that address vulnerabilities. Maine and New Hampshire’s project was funded by the Federal Highway Administration through its "Green Infrastructure Techniques for Coastal Highway Resilience" project, which explores innovative ways that transportation agencies can use green infrastructure or nature-based solutions to make highways more resilient to coastal hazards, including storm surges and sea-level rise.  

Public Health & 

Emergency Preparedness

Goals related to public health include assessing the capacity of health systems to respond to climate-related impacts and the mental health consequences and sociological effects of climate change; and providing the necessary financial and human resources to support these efforts.

To implement these goals, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) partnered with the Department of Environmental Services to develop a plan for managing the public health impacts from climate change in New Hampshire: Preparing for Climate Change: A Strategic Plan to Address the Health Impacts of Climate Change. The plan identified three strategic areas for prioritizing state action and address specific needs over a five-year period, including: mobilizing partnerships to identify and solve climate change public health needs; informing, educating, and empowering people on the issues of public health and climate; and assuring adequate climate change and public health capacity and resources. In 2013, DHHS received a Climate Ready States and Cities Initiative grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to further prepare New Hampshire for the health impacts of climate change (e.g., extreme heat, extreme weather events, asthma, and Lyme disease).

 

Water

Although not explicitly cited in any goals in the 2009 Plan, the Department of Environmental Services’ Drinking and Groundwater Bureau developed a Climate Change Resilience Plan in 2014 to guide agency activities to help build the resilience of community water systems to the impacts of climate change. The water plan outlines proactive short and long-term action items that can be incorporated into the department’s overall work, in addition to specific local recommendations for necessary infrastructure. The plan’s short-term actions called for increasing staff awareness about climate change; ensuring that the state has adequate water supplies and system redundancies; identifying potential system vulnerabilities; and staying up to date on new flood and sea-level rise maps. Medium and long-term actions called for the development of a climate change vulnerability assessment program for water systems; use of the most recent flood maps to evaluate when system components need to be elevated; and adoption of amendments to state regulations that govern design standards for new and modified structures in response to the impacts of climate change. The department intends to review and update the plan every five years.

(Research last updated: August 27, 2018).

 
 
 
 

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