Building a Stronger Coast
Recovery, restoration & building coastal resilience
Heron at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge - Matt Poole/USFWS.
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Restoring Resiliency to the Great Marsh

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Massachusetts

Project type: Resilience

Project status: Complete

Funding awarded: $340,000

Project Summary

This project increases the natural defenses of a 27,000 acre tidal marsh system by improving tidal channel hydrology, reducing marsh subsidence or surface collapse, retention of freshwater and controlling large outbreaks of invasive species through traditional and innovative measures. The issue of tidal circulation posed by Plum Island Turnpike will be addressed through modeling to inform appropriate actions to improve tidal function.

Conservation Goals

  • Build the resiliency of the 27,000 acre, upper Great Marsh
  • Determine tidal alteration impacts of the Plum Island Turnpike, remove tidal flow restrictions, and reduce the extent and threat of spread of harmful invasive plants

Project Benefits

  • Improves the tidal flow to reduce marsh subsidence and freshwater retention
  • Controls large outbreaks of invasive species
  • Improves water quality
  • Enhances ability of marsh to withstand storm surge and sea-level rise

Project Partners

  • University of New Hampshire
  • Massachusetts Audubon Society (MA Audubon)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
  • Plum Island Estuary-LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research)
  • Eight Towns and the Great Marsh
  • Gulf of Maine Institute
  • Northeast Wetland Restoration, Inc.
  • Northeast Massachusetts Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District

Additional Details

The Great Marsh is the largest marsh system north of Long Island, New York, and plays an important role in numerous benefits to the region including protection from storm surge, water filtration and wildlife-viewing. In addition, it provides habitat for native and migratory bird species and near-shore wildlife, and serves as a nursery for fish and shellfish that are harvested commercially and for recreation. The marsh restoration project will employ both traditional and innovative techniques and technologies to improve channel hydrology and tidal flow, and to combat invasive plant species.

Learn about other projects at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

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Last updated: February 5, 2019