quick links


Save The Bay designed and constructed a salt marsh and buffer of native vegetation at the site of the former Fields Point City Dump, once an island (Starve Goat Island then Sunshine Island) and open water in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island.

From 1950 to 1970, the Fields Point City Dump disposed its waste directly into the Providence River, filling 22 acres of bay bottom and a portion of the former Sunshine Island. Habitat restoration was part of a larger effort to restore a six-acre urban brownfield, the home of Save The Bay’s Bay Center. 


Watch a video shot in October 2008 hosted by Wenley Ferguson that covers four years of work by staff and volunteers at the restored Fields Point salt marsh.
Watch a slide show from June, 2004 of Save The Bay staff and volunteers as they planted 15,000 marsh plants at the site. Compass School students discover mating horeshoe crabs in the marsh. Watch the YouTube video.

Restoration Goals

To restore intertidal salt marsh habitat adjacent to a former landfill by removing fill in both upland and intertidal areas.

  • 3,500 yd3 of fill material removed in the intertidal area and the upland
  • Shoreline regraded to targeted salt marsh elevations using an adjacent salt marsh as a reference
  • Test pits dug to characterize fill material in the proposed restoration area
  • Wave analysis (fetch, wave height) conducted to determine the stone size for the salt marsh toe of slope protection structure
  • 25,000 ft2 planting area, with high and low marsh zones


  • Fill from the upland and intertidal areas was removed to achieve targeted salt marsh elevations
  • As part of the brownfields remedial action work plan a wall of boulders adjacent to the former landfill was constructed
  • An intertidal rock wall was constructed at the lower edge of the salt marsh to hold the sand in place and to dissipate some of the wave energy
  • Sand was installed and allowed to settle for 3 weeks prior to planting
  • A coconut fiber mat was installed above sand to reduce loss of sand through erosion
  • In early June 2004, 75 volunteers contributed 450 hours to plant a combination of 15,000 Spartina alterniflora, Spartina patens, Distichlis spicata, Iva frutescens and Solidago sempervirens
  • Goose exclosure constructed to prevent damage by waterfowl

Project Benefits

  • Restoring intertidal habitat
  • Replacing landfill debris with salt marsh habitat
  • Demonstrating a coastal brownfields restoration project


  • The uniqueness of the site with regards to the large fetch made it difficult to find existing restoration sites for comparison during the design process
  • Local technical expertise was not available sine there are no similar projects in the region
  • Difficulty in receiving accurate quantity and cost estimates for debris removal and disposal
  • Shoreline slope design was modified late in the project due to test pit results
  • Coir mat maintenance in an area with high wave energy resulted in the mat shifting and required significant staking
  • Designing monitoring plan for a salt marsh creation project

Outreach and Education

  • Restored marsh and buffer are at the home of Save The Bay’s Bay Center
  • Salt marsh and buffer will act as demonstration for coastal brownfields development projects in Narragansett Bay and the region
  • Restored habitat will be a living classroom for school and public education programs



  • Replanting of Spartina alterniflora occurred for the first two weeks after planting
  • The grade of the salt marsh area has changed significantly due to wave action since planting
  • Maintenance ongoing, including coir mat anchoring, debris and algal mat removal and goose exclosure fence repair
  • Plants are sending out shoots and beginning to flower
  • Sand is shifting landward, filling the voids of the upper wall, and consequently lowering the high marsh elevation
  • Additional sand has been be placed along the upper edge of the salt marsh to prevent further elevational changes
  •  To dissipate wave energy, the height of the lower edge of the toe of slope structure has been increased. The goal of this design change is to allow the waves to break on the wall instead of the salt marsh


  • Planted additional salt marsh nursery
  • Planted 1st phase of buffer


  • Planted additional salt marsh nursery and purchased plants
  • Goose fence blown out by storm, before it was fixed, many of newly planted plants grazed by geese
  • Sand continues to shift
  • Adjacent marsh continues to spread slowly along toe of slope rock wall towards planted marsh
  • Planted additional buffer plants
  • Planted additional salt marsh nursery and purchased plants
  • Completed planting buffer around boathouse


  • Planted additional salt marsh nursery plants
  • Adjacent marsh continues to spread slowly along toe of slope rock wall towards planted marsh

Bookmark and Share

Restoring homes 
of lobster, crabs, scallops and fish.

 Possible with your support. Learn more.