State of the Beach/State Reports/NH/Shoreline Structures

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New Hampshire Ratings
Indicator Type Information Status
Beach Access86
Water Quality89
Beach Erosion3-
Erosion Response-5
Beach Fill2-
Shoreline Structures 8 3
Beach Ecology3-
Surfing Areas35
Coastal Development{{{19}}}{{{20}}}
Sea Level Rise{{{21}}}{{{22}}}


New Hampshire’s Comprehensive Shoreline Protection Act requires a permit for construction of shoreline structures along the shoreline. State law regarding wetlands requires another permit when building in a wetland area. The policies are limited in the description of shoreline structure standards.

Information on the Comprehensive Shoreline Protection Act can be found here.

Shoreland areas may be exempted from the provisions in the Act by a municipality:

483-B:12 Shoreland Exemptions.
I. The governing body of a municipality may, in its discretion, request the commissioner to exempt all or a portion of the protected shoreland within its boundaries from the provisions of this chapter if the governing body finds that special local urbanization conditions exist in the protected shoreland for which the exemption is sought.

Water dependent structures, including a dock, wharf, breakwater, or other similar structures, or any part thereof, built over, on, or in the waters of the state, shall be constructed only as approved by the department.


(1) All new structures, modifications to existing structures, and excavation or earth moving within protected shoreland shall be designed and constructed in accordance with rules adopted by the department under RSA 541-A for terrain alteration under RSA 485-A:17, to manage stormwater and control erosion and sediment, during and after construction.

(2) New structures and all modifications to existing structures within the protected shoreland shall be designed and constructed to prevent the release of surface runoff across exposed mineral soils.
(3) A permit under RSA 485-A:17, I shall be required for improved, developed, or subdivided land whenever there is a contiguous disturbed area exceeding 50,000 square feet that is either partially or wholly within protected shoreland.

Dredge in Wetlands (Chapter 482-A):

State law states that any structure, including shoreline protection structures in or on any bank, flat, marsh or ramp in and adjacent to any waters of the state needs a permit from the department.


In May 2016 NHDES announced that a new dataset showing the location, type and size of New Hampshire’s tidal shoreline protection structures in 17 coastal communities was available for download and viewing on the N.H. Coastal Viewer, an online mapping tool. NHDES staff identified rip rap, walls, berms, and jetties along 326 miles of tidal shoreline using aerial photography and field verification.

A unique thing about the work is that it was done at the close scale of 1:1500, getting into the nooks and crannies of N.H.’s tidally influenced shoreline. Municipal staff and volunteers, state and regional government staff, and the public can use the shoreline structure inventory dataset to inform vulnerability assessments. Results showed that a total 12 percent of N.H.’s tidal shoreline is covered by hard structures, but when zooming in to the ocean facing coastline, seventy percent is hardened.

Read the N.H. Inventory of Tidal Shoreline Protection Structures report (March 2016).

Some information on shoreline armoring projects in New Hampshire is available on the Website of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District. See their Update Report for New Hampshire.

In June 2011 an article in stated that the Hampton Beach Area Commission had submitted a $17.4 million grant application through the Federal Highway Administration 2011 Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program to, among other things, rebuild the North Beach seawall.

The Fiscal Year 2017 Civil Works Budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provides $4.62 billion in gross discretionary funding for the Civil Works program. This budget lists proposed projects and the associated budget justification by state.


Jen Drociak
Restoration Specialist
NH Coastal Program
50 International Drive, Suite 200
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Public Education Program

Coastal Education Initiative (CEI) is designed to help the NHCP meet a need, recognized in our strategic plan, for "an increased level of awareness about coastal issues and a sense of stewardship toward the coast." CEI accomplishes this through the development and advocacy of coastal education by working with a variety of organizations and schools.

Funds granted to organizations through CEI are used for work items such as: curriculum development, publication development and printing, paid assistance, instruments, materials and supplies for field programs.

For more information, contact the New Hampshire Coastal Program at 603-431-9366.

A New Hampshire Sea Grant publication The Sand Beaches of New Hampshire and Maine provides a basic introduction to coastal erosion issues along the sand beaches of New Hampshire and Maine, including erosion causes, control efforts and consequences.

State of the Beach Report: New Hampshire
New Hampshire Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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