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$3M in fed funds to aid Great Bay

PORTSMOUTH - Democrats and Republicans in Washington don't agree on many things nowadays, but here's one thing the state's two U.S. senators do agree on: Great Bay is a vital part of New Hampshire's ecosystem that must be preserved.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Republican U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg worked together to secure $3 million that will help the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership continue its work to rehabilitate the estuary, and it will support Great Bay's multiple beneficaries, including fish, lobster and oyster harvesters and all recreational users.

"Great Bay's natural beauty and resources must be protected so that the community, nature enthusiasts and fishing industry can continue to benefit," said Shaheen. "I'm proud that this funding will help preserve this estuary and help spur the local economy at the same time."

The funding was approved Friday by the Senate as part of the Fiscal Year 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which includes $7.5 million for projects in New Hampshire. The funding for the project will now go to conference committee to be merged with the House bill.

Over the last 10 years, the Great Bay Protection Partnership has protected over 5,000 acres of land in the Great Bay estuary, becoming the largest conservation effort in the Seacoast.

Daryl Burtnett, state director of the Nature Conservancy of New Hampshire, which was the lead acquisition agent for the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership, said the money will go a long way toward preserving one of New Hampshire's richest natural systems.

"We are grateful to Sens. Gregg and Shaheen for their efforts in securing this funding," said Burtnett. "All of us who are dedicated to protecting and restoring the Great Bay watershed understand that continued conservation, building on a decade of great work, remains essential for the long term resilience of this natural system and all the benefits to residents and visitors that this beautiful place affords. "

The funding will help protect an additional 175 acres of critical shoreline habitat in the Great Bay estuary.