The Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act (CSPA) is a state law that establishes minimum standards for shorelands within 250 feet of the state’s larger water bodies.
Effective July 1, 2008, a shoreland permit from the Department of Environmental Services is required for any construction, excavation, or filling activities within the protected shoreland. There are also specific activities that are allowed in three buffer zones: the Waterfront Buffer, the Natural Woodland Buffer, and the Protected Shoreland.
The Waterfront Buffer is defined as the land 50 feet from the water’s edge. Tree coverage in this buffer zone is managed with a 50 feet x 50 feet grid and points system (see definition below). Cutting trees and saplings is allowed as long as the sum of points for remaining trees and saplings equals 50 points or more. Natural ground cover (lawns excluded) cannot be removed and no cutting or removal of vegetation below 3 feet in height is allowed (excluding lawns). A footpath to the water, up to 6 feet wide, may be established if it does not concentrate stormwater or cause erosion. Pesticide use is allowed by a licensed applicator only. Low phosphorus, slow release nitrogen fertilizer may be used for the area that is beyond 25 feet from the water; within 25 feet of the water, the only permitted fertilizer is limestone.
The Natural Woodland Buffer is the zone between 50 to 150 feet from the water line. In this zone, 50% of the area not covered by impervious surfaces must be left in a natural state, and only low phosphorus, slow release nitrogen fertilizer may be used.
The Protected Shoreland is the zone between 150 and 250 feet from the edge of the water. Permits are required for any construction, excavation, and filling activities. Certain maintenance and low impact activities are exempted, such as the installation of fencing using hand tools. The general allowance for impervious surfaces is 20%. In this zone, only low phosphorus, slow release nitrogen fertilizer may be used. For more information about the CSPA go to http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wetlands/cspa
Stratham residents are responsible for knowing the zoning ordinances.
All of the wetlands regulations are explained in detail in the Stratham Zoning Book available at the Town Offices or on the Town of Stratham website.
Stratham Shoreland Protection District: Adopted in 1985, this overlay ordinance, which was the first of its kind in the RPC region, limits the type and extent of development within 150 feet of tidal waters and within 100 feet of perennial streams. The intent is to protect environmentally sensitive shorelands. The buffer of undisturbed land that results helps protect the surface water by filtering runoff and provides critical habitat for many species that live in tidal marshes and nearby shoreland environments. It also helps maintain the scenic quality of the Squamscott River and its tributaries. In 2003, the Conservation Commission proposed, and the town voted in favor of a zoning ordinance that does not allow any disturbance or structure (including driveways) in the Shoreland Protection District.
Here are some references that can help you create your landscape while supporting a healthy environment.
Landscaping at the Water's Edge: An Ecological Approach - This UNH Cooperative Extension book provides information to help landscapers and property owners make landscape design and maintenance decisions around wetlands that reduce pollution and environmental degradation.