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0000017a-15d9-d736-a57f-17ff8a390002"A national treasure in our backyard"It spans more than 13,000 acres. Nearly a quarter of the state’s population lives within its watershed. In a 2010 series, Amy Quinton looked at the trouble pollution poses to the health of this critical estuary, and some proposed solutions for returning the Seacoast’s Great Bay to health.Now, NHPR's Environment Reporter Sam Evans-Brown brings you continuing coverage of the efforts being made in the Great Bay.Coverage supported by Penn State Public Media.Great Bay Watershed Map | More Great Bay Images

N.H.'s Ailing Estuaries: Report Shows Oysters, Clams in Decline

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A new report on the environmental health of Great Bay and surrounding waterways says those ecosystems continue to decline.

The report comes from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership, or PREP. The group is funded by the EPA and administered by UNH. Every five years, they rate the health of the Seacoast’s estuaries using 23 indicators.

Rachel Rouillard, Director of PREP, announced the findings at an event Friday in Portsmouth. She said the message from this latest report is disappointing – 12 of those 23 indicators show negative trends.

“We know that impervious cover has increased, that eel grass across Great Bay Estuary has decreased, that the oyster population in Great Bay Estuary has continued to decrease, that clams in Hampton-Seabrook have also continued to decrease and are at a near-historic low.”

According to the report, Great Bay's oyster population has plummeted by 90 percent over the last few decades. Meanwhile, the number of clams in the Hampton-Seabrook Estuary has dropped from 27 million to just 1.4 million today.

The report also highlights some positive developments.

There’s been an increase in the amount of conserved land near the estuaries. And several towns in the region have made significant upgrades to their wastewater treatment facilities.

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