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Historic Salt Marsh Restored

Local, state and federal officials celebrate Walker Farm salt marsh restoration

BARRINGTON, RI — Save The Bay, the Town of Barrington, Senator Chafee, Representative Kennedy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) and other local and state partners celebrated the Walker Farm salt marsh restoration project at a press conference public tour on Monday, August 28th at 9:30 a.m. at Walker Farm.

Walker Farm salt marsh was altered by a number of roads and dam structures that restricted the amount of salt water entering the marsh over the last 100 years. Restricted tidal flow decreased the amount of salt water that entered the marsh and resulted in the invasion of common reed, Phragmites australis, throughout the wetland.

Local, state and federal restoration partners joined together to develop and implement a plan to restore the natural tidal flow in and out of this salt marsh. The restoration project included modifying the three existing tidal restrictions and removing historic fill from the marsh to improve flushing of the salt marsh. Project partners provided $494,000 of federal, state and private funds to design, construct and monitor the restoration project.

Other partners include: Ducks Unlimited, the RI Corporate Wetlands Restoration Program, ESS Group, the Department of Environmental Management’s Mosquito Abatement Program, Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the University of Rhode Island Department of Natural Resource Sciences, and Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

The impacts to Walker Farm marsh began over a hundred years ago when the first dams were built to allow the marsh to be used as pasture. Just as it took a number of years for the marsh to become degraded, it will take several growing seasons for the salt marsh to be restored. Thanks to the efforts of all sectors of the community, Walker Farm will once again become a productive nursery and breeding ground for an array of Bay creatures. As a healthy, restored salt marsh, Walker Farm will provide habitat to fish that feed on mosquitos, thereby reducing local mosquito populations.

“Coastal marshes such as Walker Farm are the food factories for our nations’ coasts and bays. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service is proud to be a part of this cooperative conservation effort to restore this valuable habitat,” said Roylene Rides at the Door, RI NRCS State Conservationist.

The Walker Farm salt marsh restoration project marks the completion of the 500th project funded through the partnership of Restore America’s Estuaries and the NOAA Restoration Center Community-Based Restoration Program (CRP).

Restore America’s Estuaries is a national organization dedicated to bringing together coastal conservation groups across the country to protect and preserve our nation’s estuaries and coasts. Since 2000, Restore America’s Estuaries has worked closely with the NOAA CRP to provide financial and technical support for locally driven, fisheries habitat restoration projects.

“We are grateful for the support of Restore America’s Estuaries and the NOAA Community-based Restoration program for enabling Save The Bay to recruit the local, state and federal partners that worked together to make this project a reality," said Save The Bay Executive Director Curt Spalding. "The impacts to this marsh, caused by human activity and neglect, have been reversed through determination and collaboration.” 

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