As we near Earth Day, April 22, one simple way that you can celebrate is to learn more about New Hampshire's special environment. I get asked many questions by New Hampshire's citizens and visitors, but one of the most common and most important is quite straight forward: "How is New Hampshire's environment doing?" In other words, is our environment doing well? Is it getting better or worse? The full answer to this question could fill volumes, so I am pleased to announce that NHDES has developed a web-based tool that will make it easy to get a quick answer, and to dig deeper for more answers if you want to.

NHDES manages well over a hundred programs related to the health of our air, water and land, all of which delve deep into the complex science of our environment. We certainly know that our environment is better today than it was, say, 40 years ago. Rivers catching fire and smoke stacks spewing pollution are thankfully a thing of the past. That is not to say, however, that we don't face environmental challenges today. While perhaps not as "in your face" as the environmental challenges of the past, the environmental challenges of this generation pose just as great a threat to our environment and our health.

To help New Hampshire citizens get a sense of the state's environmental well-being, NHDES has created a web-based, New Hampshire Environmental Dashboard, which can be found on the NHDES homepage at www.des.nh.gov. The dashboard provides the public with a basic status report on a short list of key environmental indicators, which can be viewed individually or collectively based on the reader's interest.

These indicators cover the spectrum of environmental topics including air pollution, coastal waters, contaminated property, drinking water, lakes, ponds, rivers and streams, waste management, water availability, and wetlands. The discussion of each indicator includes a summary of its current condition along with an evaluation of the current condition or trend represented by either a green button indicating a positive condition or trend, a yellow button for a cautionary condition or trend, or a red button for a negative condition or trend.

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