Building a Stronger Coast
How Do You Save A Salt Marsh?

July 17, 2019 - A recently released video outlines a joint effort between The Nature Conservancy, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners to enhance the resiliency of Rhode Island salt marshes. In 2016 the partners launched an ambitious project, supported by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery, using an innovative technique called "thin-layer deposition," which raises the elevation of the marsh. This involves applying a layer of dredged sand or silt over the top of a marsh and then replanting native flora such as smooth cordgrass and salt meadow hay. The restored marsh is designed to better withstand intense storms and sea-level rise, providing benefits to wildlife and local communities.

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Restored salt marsh at Chafee National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island.
Credit: Ayla Fox

In the News: Helping Salt Marshes Adapt at Parker River

a woman standing in salt marsh grass

July 2, 2019 - Two recent news stories highlight the innovative work of USFWS biologist Nancy Pau to restore salt marshes at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Salt marshes protect local communities from flooding and erosion and provide critical habitat for wildlife such as the salt marsh sparrow. Parker River is part of the vast Great Marsh system, the largest continuous salt marsh in New England.

Pau’s work involves removal of “ditch plugs” and man-made berms that were installed decades ago, before biologists were managing for the threat of rising seas. Removal of the plugs and berms will hopefully allow a better mix of salt marsh grasses to grow in, resulting in a more healthy marsh system for the benefit of wildlife and people.

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WBUR - Pull The Plugs: How A Simple Move May Help Plum Island’s Salt Marshes Adapt To Sea Level Rise

Newbury Port News - Saving the salt marsh sparrow: Berms to be removed as part of Parker River refuge restoration

Biologist Nancy Pau stands in the salt marsh grass at Parker River NWR.
Credit: Steve Droter

Coastal Recovery: Bringing a Damaged Wetland Back to Life

marshland, a fence and a person standing pointing

May 9, 2019 - An ambitious wetlands restoration project is underway at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge on Delaware Bay, where scientists are using innovative methods to revive a badly damaged salt marsh. The project could be a model for other places seeking to make coastal wetlands more resilient to rising seas and worsening storms.

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Refuge manager Al Rizzo looks over an area planted with native Spartina grasses.
Credit: Yale E360


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Last updated: March 6, 2019