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Project Description

Mussachuck Creek salt marsh is located in the western corner of the town of Barrington within the Narragansett Bay watershed. The creek flows westerly from Brickyard Pond, a distance of approximately one mile to Narragansett Bay. The Rhode Island Country Club (RICC) owns much of the salt marsh bordering the creek.

At Washington Highway, a tide gate was originally installed in the 1950s to prevent flooding of the golf course. The tide gate has acted as a restriction, preventing tidal flooding during moon high tides and storm surges and has impounded freshwater. In recent years the tide gate became stuck in a partially open position that has allowed limited tidal exchange into the creek. These conditions have led to the degradation of the salt marsh due to decreased water and pore water salinity and limited passage of river herring to Brickyard Pond and Echo Lake. The restriction has also limited the passage of anadromous fish during the spring run. 

Years of tidal restriction have created conditions ideal for the establishment and spread of Phragmites australis. As much as 60 percent of the marsh is presently dominated by Phragmites. Salinity upstream of the tide gate has been as low as 6 parts per thousand (ppt). Water salinity seaward of the tide gate has been measured between 18-30 ppt. Washington Highway also impounds freshwater and thus has innundated salt marsh vegetation.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Project Goals

The goal of the project is to restore the ecological integrity of a tidally restricted 15 acre salt marsh along Mussachuck Creek and to provide passage for anadromous fish (river herring) to spawning and nursery habitat in Brickyard Pond and Echo Lake. The primary objectives are to:
  • restore tidal flow to the salt marsh by installing a “Self Regulating Tide Gate (SRT)” on the Washington Highway Bridge;
  • restore fish passage for river herring including alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) to Brickyard Pond and Echo Lake, a total of 138 acres, by managing the tide gate to facilitate fish passage during the spring run and during the downstream migration of juveniles in the fall and by excavating the mouth of the tidal creek.


Where is Big Mussachuck? Link here to our Bay Mapto find out (scroll down on the left hand side of the page to find Big Mussachuck). 

More fun facts about this project.
See photos of Big Mussachuck Creek.

 
 
 
 
 

Project partners include Rhode Island Country Club, RI Department of Environmental Management, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, RI Department of Transportation, and
a partnership between Restore America’s Estuaries and NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center.

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