Building a Stronger Coast
Raising Up Marshes in the Race Against Sea-Level Rise

Taking marsh measurements at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Tom Sturm/USFWS

April 12, 2016 - The tidal marshes at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge are getting a lift – literally. An innovative effort to help protect marshes from rising seas is underway at Maidford River marshlands in Rhode Island. The work involves raising the elevation of the marsh by spraying extra layers of wet sand over top, adding anywhere from an inch to a foot of sand. After the sand has been added, staff will re-plant the area with marsh grasses, sometime in mid-May. (See video of the work.)

While salt marshes naturally move and grow, they have not been able to keep up with the rate of sea-level rise – high water is essentially drowning them out. The idea behind elevating the marsh is to hopefully give the habitat a chance to keep pace with sea-level rise, ensuring that tidal marshes persist into the future.

Salt marshes are home to a wide variety of plants and animals like the saltmarsh sparrow, which nests in tidal marshes. But salt marshes also provide incredible natural benefits to people by cleaning and filtering water and buffering coasts from wind and waves. The restoration of 11 acres at Maidford is part of a larger effort to restore 400 acres of tidal marshes along the coast of Rhode Island and improve coastal resiliency for storm protection.

Watch a video
Learn more about the project
Read a recent article in the Providence Journal

Taking marsh measurements at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.
Credit: Tom Sturm/USFWS


Volunteers Help Restore Site of Former Pond Lily Dam

Volunteers helping plant native vegetation at Pond Lily.

April 12, 2016 - On Saturday April 9, more than 140 volunteers made quick work of planting native vegetation along the banks of the West River in New Haven, CT. With smiles on their faces, volunteers slid and sunk in the mud in order to plant cottonwood, box elder, red maple, pepperbush, dogwood, marsh grasses and more. The new plants will help stabilize the river banks, prevent erosion and restore the natural floodplain of the river.

The event was more than just hard work – it was also a celebration of the removal of the centuries-old Pond Lily dam. Completed in February, removal of the dam re-opens 2.6 miles of the West River, improving passage for fish and helping alleviate the risk of flooding to nearby residents and businesses. Native species including herring, eel and shad are expected to return to this spring’s spawning run beginning as early as the middle of this month.

Attendees of the event included Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, Senator Richard Blumenthal, state Representative Pat Dillon, and representatives from Save the Sound, the New Haven Land Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners on this project.

Read more about the planting event (news release)
Learn more about the Pond Lily project


Volunteers helping plant native vegetation at Pond Lily.
Credit: New Haven Land Trust


Saving the horseshoe crabs for the birds

Red knots

April 8, 2016 - The beaches along Delaware Bay are some of the most critically important stopover sites for migratory shorebirds, many of which are undergoing alarming declines. Without a jumbo snack of horseshoe crab eggs, these birds might not make it on their long-distance migration. To help, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working at numerous sites along the Delaware Bay to restore beaches and improve conditions for spawning horseshoe crabs, thereby helping support migratory shorebirds.

Learn more




Credit: Gregory Breese/USFWS


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Last updated: April 7, 2016