Coastal Habitats

salt marsh restoration

Coastal habitats around the Bay include salt marshes, beaches, dunes, upland forests, and aquatic habitats such as eelgrass, mud flats, and shellfish beds. The health of these habitats is important for our native plants and animals and for all of us who live and rely on healthy and clean water in Narragansett Bay and the coastal region.

Coastal Buffers 

Coastal buffers include all types of plants that provide a natural barrier between human activities and the coastline. These buffers include salt marshes, dunes, vegetated uplands, and forested areas. These areas provide wildlife habitat, erosion control, and filtering of pollutants from development. Many native plants such as bayberry and beach plum thrive in coastal buffers and can tolerate the harsh conditions found along the coast. 

Save The Bay encourages coastal and wetlands property owners to use environmentally-friendly landscape design.  

Beaches and Dunes

Beaches and dunes play an important role in protecting our coastline from flooding. Dunes have a natural reservoir of sand that can erode in response to storms, protecting what is behind them. Beaches and dunes naturally migrate inland in response to erosion and sea level rise. Beaches provide important public shoreline access and wildlife habitat. When we build on these shorelines and attempt to hold them in place, we often lose the resource we are trying to protect. 

Save The Bay encourages smart development that protects the public’s right to access the coastline.

Salt Marshes 

Salt Marshes are highly productive areas that protect upland shorelines, keep our Bay healthy, and provide a nursery for juvenile fish. 

Save The Bay works to assess threats to salt marsh health and to restore healthy, functioning marshes.

Eelgrass

Eelgrass is a submerged aquatic plant that provides a nursery habitat for fish and shellfish. This habitat is threatened by poor water quality and human activity. Many acres of eelgrass have been lost in the Bay and coastal ponds. 

Save The Bay supports efforts to restore water quality and has transplanted eelgrass to several areas around Narragansett Bay. We continue to plant small areas to assess their ability to support eelgrass habitat.

Shellfish

Shellfish have long been an important part of Rhode Island’s history and economy. The bay scallop, which had mostly been lost from Bay waters, has been enhanced in some areas of the Bay and the salt ponds. 

Save The Bay is working to restore scallops using caged spawner sanctuaries in the salt ponds.

To protect coastal habitats, Save The Bay:

  • encourages smart development that protects the public’s right to access the coastline.
  • works to assess threats to salt marsh health and to restore healthy, functioning marshes.
  • supports efforts to restore water quality and has transplanted eelgrass to several areas around Narragansett Bay. We continue to plant small areas to assess their ability to support eelgrass habitat.
  • is working to restore scallops using caged spawner sanctuaries in the salt ponds.