UNH News Release: How Healthy Is Great Bay? Find Out at Seacoast Science Café Dec. 5
November 27, 2012
How Healthy Is Great Bay? Find Out at Seacoast Science Café Dec. 5

DURHAM, N.H. – Why is the Great Bay, New Hampshire’s largest estuary, so important to our way of life? The fourth event in the Seacoast Science Café series will discuss just that. Rachel Rouillard, director of the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP), and Cory Riley, manager of the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR), will lead a public discussion at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 in the Portsmouth Brewery’s Jimmy LaPanza Lounge. The free event is open to all; no reservations are needed.

The Great Bay is a tidally dominated system encompassing about 17 square miles. Eleven communities border its shoreline, which consists of steep wooded banks with rock outcroppings, cobble and shale beaches, and fringing saltmarsh. 

The health of this vital body of water has been the subject of great controversy over the past few years. Few disagree that the deteriorating health of the Bay is of great concern. However, as federal administrations seek to follow their mandate to enforce environmental law, state and local governments have found themselves on the defensive against expensive waste water processing upgrades.

PREP is a collaborative program at University of New Hampshire that monitors, protects, and restores the environmental health of the Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook estuaries. The Great Bay NERR is a local protected area established to support long-term research, public and school education and outreach, and informed natural resource management practices.

This Science Cafe takes place just two days before PREP’s annual State of Our Estuaries conference, which offers a much more in-depth take on local water quality. For more conference information, including an agenda, go to http://www.stateofourestuaries.org.

The Science Café format brings the discourse out of the university and into the larger community. Cameron Wake, UNH research associate professor of Earth sciences and the director of Carbon Solutions New England, initiated the partnership with the Portsmouth Brewery to sponsor the series. “Organizing the Seacoast Science Café is important because it provides a new opportunity for researchers to engage in dialogue with seacoast residents about the science that directly impacts all of our lives,” says Wake.  “We hope café goers will take away not just information, but also an understanding of just how important these issues are.” 

Hosting the event at a brewpub puts the science café in a great tradition of people gathering together over a pint to discuss issues of the times. “There’s a great equalization that takes place when people sit down to chat over a beer,” says Peter Egelston, president of Portsmouth Brewery and café co-host. “A setting like this whittles away the feeling of a lecture and, we believe, encourages folks to feel like they can join the conversation, even if they don’t know much about the topic right away. Engaging the issue is the whole point and we hope people of all different viewpoints and backgrounds will join in.”

The Café series is co-sponsored by University of New Hampshire and EPSCoR, New Hampshire’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. Each of the four cafés focuses on a regional topic and how it relates to global climate change. 

Another partner of the Seacoast Science Café is WSCA 106.1 FM, Portsmouth’s Community Radio. The station will record each event for replay on the radio, as well as for download as a podcast. The broadcast of this particular café will be aired on December 18 at 9 a.m. The podcast will be archived at http://nhepscor.org/sciencecafe.

The Portsmouth Brewery is New Hampshire’s original brewpub serving award-winning beers and creative cuisine featuring locally-sourced ingredients in the heart of Market Square since 1991. The Brewery serves all types and is proud to enable folks to do good while drinking well through a number of philanthropic activities.

NH EPSCoR is a program funded by the National Science Foundation to build research capacity in the state. Its current project, "Ecosystems and Society,” brings together scientists to better understand the environment and the complex interactions of the climate-ecological-human system, as well as to provide essential information for state decision-makers. Ecosystems in New Hampshire and the surrounding northern forest region provide a wide range of services that are critical to the region’s inhabitants. The research effort is led by UNH in collaboration with Dartmouth College, Plymouth State University’s Center for the Environment, and St. Anselm College.

For further questions about the Seacoast Science Cafe, contact JT Thompson, Minister of Propaganda at the Portsmouth Brewery (jt@smuttynose.com) or Evelyn Jones at NH EPSCoR (Evelyn.Jones@unh.edu).

The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 12,200 undergraduate and 2,300 graduate students.

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Media Contact: Beth Potier | 603-862-1566 | UNH Media Relations | @unhnews

Secondary Contact: Evelyn Jones | 603-862-1804 | NH EPSCoR
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