Building a Stronger Coast
Saving saltmarsh sparrows and their habitat in the face of sea-level rise

saltmarsh sparrow on a branch

April 2, 2020 – The spring issue of Living Bird magazine features an article about efforts to protect the saltmarsh sparrow and its habitat. The saltmarsh sparrow is found exclusively on the East Coast, where it nests in high marsh habitat. But high tides and storm surges are increasingly flooding saltmarsh sparrow nests and the marshes they depend on – the saltmarsh sparrow could become one of the first bird species to go extinct due to rising seas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been engaged in saltmarsh sparrow conservation for more than a decade and is increasing its efforts to protect and restore marshes on wildlife refuges, collaborate with researchers, and help states and landowners to conserve the saltmarsh sparrow. The article highlights FWS projects in New Jersey, Delaware and Massachusetts, as well as our work with the Atlantic Joint Coast Venture, a partnership working to protect saltmarsh sparrows and other native birds across the regeion.

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Saltmarsh sparrow.
Credit: Mitch Hartley/USFWS


A virtual visit to Great Dismal Swamp Refuge

New half-moon water control structures like the one shown here allow staff at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to manage water levels to rehydrate peat soils and reduce flooding of nearby communities.

January 29, 2020 - Last fall, a film crew from BBC’s The Travel Show visited Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to learn about its history and management. Refuge Manager Chris Lowie gave a tour of Lake Drummond and Washington Ditch, one of many channels dug to drain the swamp for commercial interests centuries ago.

Lowie showed how staff use water control structures to rewet the swamp, which lessens flood risk to nearby communities, dampens effects of wildfire and drought, and improves water quality for wildlife and people. A $3-million project funded by federal Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience money was completed in 2016, with 12 new structures built on the refuge.

Watch the video



New half-moon water control structures like the one shown here allow staff at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to manage water levels to rehydrate peat soils and reduce flooding of nearby communities.
Credit: USFWS


Service joins partners in highlighting removal of Tel-Electric Dam in Pittsfield, Mass.

Dec. 11, 2019 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today joined Massachusetts state officials and representatives of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and City of Pittsfield, Mass., to highlight a $3.8 million collaborative effort to remove Tel-Electric Dam on the West Branch of the Housatonic River. 
 
Removing the dam will reconnect nearly five miles of upstream river habitat with the lower reach of the West Branch -- and, ultimately, the mainstem of the Housatonic River -- allowing fish and other aquatic species to move more freely in the watershed. Dam removal will improve water quality and repair natural river processes in the West Branch.
 
The dam was breached in November and work has begun on the cofferdam so the sediments contaminated with years of pollutants can be removed. The project, which is on track to be completed this spring, is partially funded by a $1.7-million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant from the Department of the Interior, administered by NFWF.
 

News Release




Credit: Stephanie Zollshan/ Berkshire Eagle


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Last updated: March 10, 2020