Thursday, August 7, 2014

Salt Marsh Restoration

Annabelle Everett
Communications Intern

FROM THE FIELD

A salt marsh is a type of wetland that is situated between the ocean and the land. It usually contains many different types of plants and is known for sustaining plants that can endure regular flooding of and draining by salt water brought in from the tides. With its ability to produce more basic food energy per acre than any other system, a salt marsh is one of the most productive of ecosystems.
Jacob's Point Salt Marsh
in Warren, RI

Save The Bay continues to work towards the restoration of many of RI's salt marshes, including that at Jacob's Point in Warren. This marsh measures at 47 acres along the Warren River and borders the East Bay bike path. Restoration over the years has included attempts to combat invasive species, like Phragmites australis, a type of marsh grass, and strict monitoring of the marsh's water quality. 

Habitat interns measure the
marsh's salinity

The monitoring of the salt marshes' water quality is a crucial step in restoration. Save The Bay habitat interns Emma Rook, Grace Decost, and Amanda Adams monitor marshes as part of their work for STB this summer. They measure five marshes in Rhode Island, closely monitoring each of them every other week. The interns also participate in dig days in which they clear spaces within a marsh in order to drain any excess water. In addition, they use a refractometer to measure the salinity of each marsh. The interns described to me that different types of plants grow and flourish in different levels of salinity. Therefore, if a plant that can be sustained in higher levels begins to grow, it is an indication that the level of salinity is particularly high and that many other types of plants will not be able to survive.

Salt marshes are an important part of any coastal area as they provide protection for them from threats such as erosion and storm surge. They also filter runoff water and support a large number of fish species. The work that STB does along with the help of interns to restore these marshes is invaluable and a key step in protecting the Bay and its surrounding environment.

- Annabelle

Annabelle Everett is studying Writing & Rhetoric at Hobart & William Smith Colleges