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Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Wildlife Management Area - Great Bay Shoreline North

Town: Newington


County: Rockingham


Acres: Two parcels totaling 18 acres


Acquisition History: All tracts associated with the Great Bay Shoreline North focus area were acquired through the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership (GBRPP) with funds provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and conveyed to New Hampshire Fish and Game through The Nature Conservancy in 2003.

Visit the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership website to find out more about this partnership and its conservation efforts.

Description: The Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR) is part of a national network of protected areas throughout the Great Bay estuary. Created under the Coastal Zone Management Act, the National Estuarine Research Reserve partnership program between NOAA and the coastal states protects more than one million acres of the nation's most important coastal resources.   The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department manages the Great Bay Reserve, which was designated in 1989. To find out more about the program, visit the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve website.

Goat Island is the largest island in the Great Bay Estuary.  It has a rich history, once serving as an island link for the Piscataqua Bridge, hosting a tavern and stables, and serving as the home of Jim Murtaugh, the “Hermit of Goat Island.”  Today, the island contains a cultural trail where the remains of the bridge abutments and the tavern and stable foundations can still be seen.


The Beane tract provides over 600 feet of frontage on Little Bay.  It is primarily forested with pine and hardwood and contains a small 2.5-acre field.

Common Wildlife:   Common upland wildlife may include white-tail deer, turkey, red fox and cottontail rabbit.


The Great Bay estuary is also part of the North Atlantic flyway and 20 species of waterfowl, 27 species of shorebirds, and 13 species of wading birds use the bay as a wintering area or migratory stopover. Winter waterfowl counts at Great Bay average 5,000 birds annually, with black ducks being the most prominent species. Over eighty percent of all waterfowl that winter in New Hampshire's coastal areas are found in Great Bay. Home to several endangered and threatened bird species, the Bay supports a large winter population of bald eagles.

Special Notes:  Goat Island is closed to waterfowl hunting and recreational shellfishing is restricted due to licensed commercial operations nearby.  For maps of all conserved lands with public access and a list of allowed recreational uses in the Great Bay Shoreline area, visit the Great Bay Resource Protection Partnership website.

Directions: From Routes 4 and 16, take Exit 4 toward Newington Village to Nimble Hill Road.  At the 4-way intersection, take a right onto Fox Hill Road and the next right onto Beane Lane.  Park at the turn-around and walk to the end of the road.  The forested area on the right, past 86 Bean Lane, is the Beane Tract.  Goat Island can only be accessed by boat.

DeLorme N.H. Atlas and Gazetteer coordinates: Page 30, H2




A User-Pay, User-Benefit Program

Wildlife RestorationThis Wildlife Management Area was funded in part by the Federal Aid in Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Your purchases of hunting equipment and ammunition make a difference to New Hampshire's wildlife resources and our way of life. Learn more.


Maps Available