Featured mission: Preserving and monitoring eelgrass habitats
Looking toward Kittery Point and the existing eelgrass beds and the mouth of the Piscatuqua River on the border of Maine and New Hampshire - PREP Communications staff, Sierra Kehoe/LightHawk.
The federal government designated eelgrass as an Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) and a Habitat of Particular Concern under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1996. The designation as EFH requires federal agencies to consult with NOAA Fisheries on ways to avoid or minimize the adverse effects of their actions on eelgrass. Assessing eelgrass habitat is essential to adjust management practices across the watershed.
Eelgrass provides a number of important ecosystem functions, including foraging areas and shelter to young fish and invertebrates, food for migratory waterfowl and sea turtles, and spawning surfaces for multiple species. By trapping sediment, stabilizing the substrate, and reducing the force of wave energy, eelgrass beds also reduce coastal erosion. In fact, eelgrass forms the base of a highly productive marine food web. The unique habitat also produces food and oxygen, improves water quality by filtering polluted runoff, absorbs excess nutrients, stores greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide, and protects the shoreline from erosion.
LightHawk has partnered with the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership for a multi-year effort to guide management of eelgrass habitat in the Great Bay estuary and immediately off the coast of New Hampshire. PREP's work is driven by input from a diverse and talented group of stakeholders in three different committees and is supported and implemented by a wide-ranging group of partners and 52-municipalities. Their initiatives to preserve and monitor the Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook estuaries rely upon the collective action of many partners, constructive collaboration, and shared successes to use best management practices (BMP's) to enhance water quality to help sustain this critical species.
VP Kent Wein adjusting camera and strut mount on his Husky. Photo J.Milne/LightHawk.
During this flight, multiple areas within the Great Bay estuary were captured using GoPro video cameras. PREP Communications staff, Sierra Kehoe remarked, "This project wouldn't be possible without the flight donated by LightHawk. Their technical expertise, talent for logistics, and generosity have allowed the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) to continue monitoring the keystone species of eelgrass. This flight was my first time viewing the Great Bay Estuary – the place I live, work, and play in – from above. What an incredible and awe-striking experience! Thank you, LightHawk, for your continued
support and generosity."
Special thanks go out to volunteer pilot Kent Wien traveled from Poughkeepsie the day before the flight in order to fly the mission at the lowest possible tide.
Join us in Bend, Oregon this October for our Annual Meeting & Fly-In
On October 27-29, 2023, LightHawk volunteer pilots, conservation partners, staff and guests will gather for our Annual Meeting & Fly-In.
We're excited to get together once again to reconnect with friends and colleagues in a beautiful location. Join us in Bend, Oregon to celebrate our accomplishments, learn from each other and look ahead to
We'll have presentations from aviation experts, conservation partners and more over the course of the weekend along with the usual Volunteer Pilot Awards and dinner featuring a special keynote speaker.
Riverhouse on the Deschutes
3075 N. Business 97
Bend, OR 97703
Phone: (541) 389-3111
LightHawk Photo of the Month
Photo by Jay Calderon/Desert Sun
The Salton Sea as captured by Jay Calderon of the Desert Sun. Jay flew with LightHawk thanks to a series of flights over multiple days with conservation partners The Pacific Institute, Audubon California, and others. Passengers on the flights included members of the media and decision makers as part of a Salton Sea
conference the Institute co-organized with UC Riverside's School of Public Policy. Through these flyovers, they were able to demonstrate the scale of the opportunities and challenges at the Salton Sea, the location and scale of some of the current dust-control projects on the shores of the Sea, and the magnitude of the Sea's recent drawdown. The flyovers improved participants' understanding of the magnitude of change occurring at the Salton Sea, and also helped participants understand that some projects are in place, though none led by the State of California.
Support LightHawk and make conservation fly!
LightHawk's mission is as important today as it has ever been. Working with partners across the country, we're bringing the gift of aviation to conservation issues. Thanks to LightHawk and its community of volunteer pilots, our conservation partners are able to accomplish more, in less time - preserving important resources. Your gift lifts our wings and brings success to projects sooner. You can make conservation fly!
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