Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
The N.H. Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) is responsible for preparing the state’s hazard mitigation plan and coordinating the state’s response to natural disasters. The NH HSEM Planning Section administers the Hazard Mitigation Assistance program which provides funding for the development of municipal hazard mitigation plans. HSEM also prepares the State Hazard Mitigation Plan (last updated in 2013) which lays out goals and recommendations to protect the state, municipalities and residents from impacts from natural and human caused hazards. For more information about programs and assistance refer to the Homeland Security and Emergency Management
The United States Congress adopted the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, providing federal funding for the development of state and local hazard mitigation plans and projects. States and municipalities must adopt hazard mitigation plans in order to be eligible for federal hazard mitigation project funding and disaster relief. These plans are reviewed and approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
New Hampshire Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan
The 2013 New Hampshire Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan incorporated for the first time goals about addressing climate change including technical support, planning, assessment of risk and vulnerability, and adaptation statewide. RPC staff in collaboration with NH CAW members and the NH Coastal Program assisted with preparation of these climate change goals and recommendations. Below are key goals and objectives from the NH Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan relating to climate change.
Goal #7. Address the challenges posed by climate change as they pertain to increasing risk to the State’s infrastructure and natural environment.
Objective A. Support efforts to characterize and identify risks posed by climate change especially as it relates to changing precipitation patterns, storm event frequency, and sea level rise.
Objective B. Support strategies for adaptation to climate change.
Objective C. Encourage coastal communities to incorporate mitigation planning in master plans, zoning, land use and resource regulations and other planning studies and initiatives that address the existing and potential future threats related to climate change and sea level rise.
NH Climate Action Plan
In 2009, Governor Lynch’s Climate Change Policy Task Force released the NH Climate Action Plan, containing 10 overarching strategies necessary to meet the states greenhouse gas reduction and climate change related goals. Goal 9 states “Plan for how to address existing and potential climate change impacts”. Chapter 3 Adapting to Climate Change describes in greater detail the benefits of planning for and adapting to climate change and how this may be achieved to minimize impacts to the economy, human health, natural systems, and infrastructure. The plan was intended to act as a broad guide to examine projected future conditions and needs, and inform state and municipal actions as needed to maintain a high quality of life in our state.
The NH Climate Action Plan has helped guide many research and planning initiatives, policy decisions, and audits of the existing regulatory standards and procedures by state agencies to address climate change. In spite of limited funding and staff capacity at the state level to implement the recommendations of the plan statewide, state agencies have recently completed internal evaluations toward incorporating climate change elements across all programs. The plan envisions that all stakeholders throughout the state would contribute to implementation of its recommendations. Organizations like the RPC, NH Coastal Adaptation Workgroup and others have made progress toward implementing recommendations from the Climate Adaptation Chapter of the Plan. The Plan is available on the NH Department of Environmental Services website at http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/air/tsb/tps/climate/action_plan/.
NH Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission (RSA 483E)
The Coastal Risks and Hazards Commission was established under RSA 483-E by the New Hampshire Legislature in 2013. The Commission’s membership includes representatives from the New Hampshire House of Representatives, state agencies, regional planning commissions, all coastal and tidally influenced municipalities, University of New Hampshire and other private sector and non-profit stakeholders from the coastal watershed. The Commission is charged with “recommending legislation, rules and other actions to prepare for projected sea-level rise and other coastal and coastal watershed hazards such as storms, increased river flooding, and storm water runoff, and the risks such hazards pose to municipalities and state assets.”
The Commission was charged to review National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other scientific agency projections of coastal storm inundation, and flood risk to determine the appropriate information, data and understanding of risk to use in its recommendations. The Commission established a Science and Technical Advisory Panel to advise them on the best available science about projections for future sea-level rise, storm surge, and extreme precipitation. The Panel’s report to the Commission was adopted in 2014. The Commission released its draft report, Preparing New Hampshire for Projected Storm Surge, Sea-Level Rise, and Extreme Precipitation, and recommendations on March 18, 2016 for public review and comment through June 30, 2016. The Commission's final report was unanimously adopted on October 21, 2016.
The New Hampshire Coastal Adaptation Workgroup (NHCAW) is a collaboration of 20 partners and organizations working to help communities in southeastern New Hampshire prepare for the effects of extreme weather events and other effects of long term climate change. Since its inception in 2010, NHCAW partners have received numerous grants to conduct research, analyses, develop tools and implement outreach in the coastal watershed. NHCAW projects are typically multi-faceted, incorporating science-based research, development of tools and guidance, and stakeholder outreach and engagement. Through education, facilitation and guidance, NHCAW helps municipalities to better prepare for the effects of a changing climate in order to protect their social, economic, human and environmental health. NHCAW’s yearly workshop series “Water, Weather, Climate and Community” focuses on information to help stakeholders acquire technical knowledge, gain access to resources, and learn from each other’s experiences in order to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
RPC has been a participating member of NHCAW for over six years, providing staff time, technical resources and regional collaboration. For more information, refer to the NHCAW website.