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Town of Rye
State: NH
County: Rockingham


Piscataqua River Watershed

Sagamore Creek forms a portion of Ryes northern border with Portsmouth. The creek is tidally influenced here, and it water is brackish. Dozens of homes dot its shoreline along Wentworth Road. There are mud flats at the mouth of the creek where it flows into the Piscataqua River.

The Piscataqua River forms Ryes eastern border with New Castle, as it flows around that Island. Its shoreline is dominated by the Wentworth by the Sea Golf Club, whose fairways are right up to the water. The Piscataqua River forms a small harbor where numerous boats are moored, and then flows into Gulf of Maine.

To see the locations of these resources in Google Earth follow this link.

If you do not have Google Earth software you may download it by following this link.

Water District: Rye Water District
District Website: http://www.town.rye.nh.us/
Water Source: Groundwater
# Accts Serv: 5248 pop.
Other Towns: none
Sewer District: Septic
District Website: none
Receiving Waters: groundwater
# Accts Serv: N/A
Other Towns: none
(Click the Title of the article to learn more.)
Rye Master Plan
Publications, Websites, and Tools
2006 update to the Rye Master Plan.

Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire
Community Assistance Providers
A regional land trust serving 39 communities in southeastern New Hampshire

Seal:town seal, click to enlarge
Population:5214 (U.S. Census Est. 2006)
Area:12.6 square miles


The development of Rye has been predominantly residential. There is some commercial development found along Route One, and there are small business and commercial districts dispersed throughout town and there is no traditional commercial village center. Ryes land is gently sloping and ranges in elevation from sea level to approximately 150 feet in elevation at Breakfast Hill in the southwest corner of the town. The town is traversed from northeast to southwest by a low ridge, and five smaller ridges run from the diagonal ridge eastward to the ocean. In between the ridges are tidal and freshwater marshes, thus the roadway development in the town have followed the ridge lines.

The population of Rye is projected to increase to 5,640 by 2015. This is an increase of about 8% from the 2006 population estimate of 5,214 residents. Though future growth is projected at a similar rate, Ryes proximity to the Portsmouth may put development pressure on the undeveloped land in town.

Approximately 19% of Ryes land is in current use tax status. This includes 387 acres of forest and 309 acres farmland. However, this designation does not provide permanent protection and development incentives may decrease these numbers in the future.

As of 2006, the Rye Conservation Commission had met with 21 landowners to consider incorporating their land into the Open Space Plan. The committee has worked to place 70 acres of land in conservation through private conservation easements, and 65 acres through public conservation easements. In addition, the Town of Rye owns over 600 acres that have been purchased or otherwise acquired prior to the creation of the Open Space initiative.

Rye is fortunate to have three state parks within its borders. The largest is Odiorne Point State Park, which stretches across 330 acres of coastal land and water along Route 1A. The Park includes walking trails, boat launch areas, picnic areas, and the Seacoast Science Center.

The Town of Rye has numerous forested areas on both private and public property, including a town forest with trails as well as several wooded areas on conservation lands. Many of Ryes natural resources such as beaches and woodlands provide recreational opportunities. The town forest and other conservation lands, along with a $5 million bond in 2003, has allowed the Town to add many acres to its conservation holdings. Some of these lands constitute open space for individual leisure. Trails are used for walks and skiing.

to learn more see The Rye Master Plan


It is likely that early European fisherman established seasonal camps along the coastline in Rye as early as the 1500s

The first settlement in New Hampshire, established by David Thompson in 1623 at Odiorne's Point, and named Pannaway. Originally part of Portsmouth, it was incorporated as a parish of New Castle in 1726. The town is named for the borough of Rye, a flourishing English Channel town. Rye's eight-mile length of coastline is dotted with old names such as Wallis Sands, Jenness Beach, Locke's Neck, Ragged Neck, Rye Harbor, and Odiorne Point. In 1876, four of the Isles of Shoals were annexed to the town, the only New Hampshire town with Atlantic islands. The remaining five islands belong to Maine.

The population of Rye in 1790, at the time the first census was taken was 958 residents. The population of Rye stayed near 1,000 for more than 100 years prior to the post WWII baby-boom era. The population grew rapidly during the 1940s, 50s and 60s, largely as a result of the growth of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and later Pease Air Force Base. In the 1970s, population growth moderated, and since 1980 the population has remained relatively stable as Pease closed and the shipyard downsized.

Looking at residential uses, in 1962 the Town had 1,135 acres in residential land use. By 1998 this total had increased to 1,776 acres, a change of 641 acres. That represents an increase in residential development of over 50% during that 36-year period.

Unfortunately this increase had to come nearly entirely at the expense of the agricultural sector. The number of acres in agricultural use in 1964 was 679. This total had decreased to 249 acres in 1998, which represents a decrease of 63 percent.

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm, Wells, Maine Copyright 2006 All rights reserved. Collaboration with NOAA CSC, Charleston SC