Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - 8:30 AM

Creation and Application of High Intensity Soil Surveys the New Hampshire Experience.

James Gove, Gove Environmental Services, Inc., 118 Portsmouth Ave, Stratham, NH 03885-2487

In the 1980’s, southern New Hampshire was undergoing significant development in the form of large residential subdivisions.  The local communities were looking for ways to preserve more of their natural resources, and there was the perception that the State regulatory authorities were not providing sufficient protection.  While there was a State Wetlands Board, local communities found that many subdivisions were being built on unsuitable areas.  For a time, the towns looked to the Order 2 soil surveys to address the location of critical resource areas that could be protected through the local subdivision approval process.  However, the county soil surveys were not designed for, nor did they provide the detail needed at the subdivision level.  Thus, in 1987, the publication “High Intensity Soil Maps for New Hampshire, Standards” was brought forth by the Society of Soil Scientists of Northern New England.  This was designed as a single use product, with a connotative soils legend that addressed primarily septic systems and soil-based lot sizing.  It was immediately adopted by a number of communities.  It eventually led to a State Certification of Soil Scientists, and to a more encompassing form of soil mapping based upon the State-Wide Numerical Soils Legend that was developed by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.  This newer form of soil mapping was documented in the “Site-Specific Soil Mapping Standards for New Hampshire and Vermont” also published by the Society of Soil Scientists of Northern New England, and eventually included a support document titled “Soil Based Lot Sizing, Environmental Planning for Onsite Wastewater Treatment in New Hampshire”.  Today, both forms of soil mapping co-exist in New Hampshire, with some communities preferring the connotative legend while others prefer the extensive soils data base that can be generated by utilizing the State-Wide Numerical Soils Legend.