Salt marsh Restoration

salt marsh

Wenley Ferguson
Salt Marsh Restoration

Since 1997, Save The Bay has facilitated community-based restoration projects by working with towns, cities, and other partners to remove fill and tidal restrictions, and support native species. Our restoration projects have made a substantial contribution to the health of the Bay and its watershed. We also work with teachers and schools to grow salt marsh plants that are then planted in areas we are working to restore.  

In the past 300 years:

  • 53% of the Bay’s salt marshes have been destroyed
  • the majority of the remaining marshes have been damaged by human activity
  • remaining marshes are increasingly vulnerable to rapid sea level rise 

Save The Bay is working with federal, state, and local partners to develop and implement strategies for salt marshes to adapt to changing environmental conditions such as sea level rise. 

Salt Marsh Restoration

Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model

A salt marsh is a wetland that is located between the land and the ocean. Salt marshes are characterized by plants that can handle regular tidal flooding by salt water. They typically contain several different types of plants located in zones called upper marsh, high marsh, and low marsh.

Salt marshes are highly productive systems that produce more basic food energy per acre than any other known ecosystem, including tropical rain forests and freshwater wetlands.

  • 70% of commercial fish depend upon salt marshes for all or part of their lives
  • 63 fish species in the Bay use salt marshes as nurseries, and many more fish and shellfish depend on them for living and breeding
  • Wading birds such as egrets and great blue herons feed in the productive salt marshes during the summer months. Migratory birds such as shorebirds and ducks use salt marshes as stop-over points
  • Salt marshes shield and protect coastal areas from storm surge. Established marsh grasses are also highly effective against erosion
  • Salt marshes clean water by filtering sediments, nutrients, heavy metals, and other toxins from upland runoff


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.