In general, the northern portion of this region, such as Maine, upper Vermont and New Hampshire, and the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains in New York, are at lower risk of current degradation than the southern areas, where population pressures are more intense. Overall, 53 percent of the stream miles in the Northeastern States have a low or very low risk of habitat degradation. However, the Northeastern States have experienced extensive alteration and loss of aquatic habitats in many areas. As a result, 32 percent of the stream miles have high or very high risk of aquatic habitat degradation and the region is one of the most threatened in the conterminous United States. The most common disturbances in the region are urban and suburban development, roads, and pasture land. The disturbances that most affected scores for high risk streams were roads, suburban sprawl, pasture and agricultural land use, urban development, and mine density.
In contrast, 79 percent of the estuarine area is at high or very high risk of current habitat degradation and overall the region’s coastal habitats are at greater risk than most of the country. Long Island Sound, Massachusetts Bay, Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island, Boston Harbor, Hudson River, and Connecticut River are at very high risk. Pollution and urban development were factors that were typically the worst disturbances in these estuaries. However, even lesser known estuaries were at very high risk, such as Plumb Island Sound in northeast Massachusetts, which was also affected by eutrophication. Other anthropogenic threats to Northeastern States regional estuaries are water quality and withdrawal, dams and other barriers, urban land use, and dredging and coastal maintenance. The coastal waters with the lowest risk were all located in Maine.
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