The Trustees and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Honored for Work to Restore Great Marsh

Wednesday July 03, 2024

The Trustees of Reservations and its partner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, recently were named the 2024 recipients of the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBC)’s Merit Award for Leadership by a Non-Profit Organization for their work to restore the Great Marsh on the North Shore in Newbury, Essex, and Ipswich. The Great Marsh is New England’s largest salt marsh.

At 16,000 acres, the Great Marsh provides habitat, stores carbon, provides world-class birding and protects communities from storms and flooding. A legacy of agricultural embankments and ditching has left the marsh vulnerable to sea level rise. Without restoration, the Great Marsh is projected to convert to a low marsh before 2070 and tidal flats before 2100.

The Trustees and the USFWS, along with the project team, piloted an innovative yet simple approach to restore tidal hydrology allowing the marsh to heal itself and build in elevation naturally. Using runnels to drain impounded water and salt marsh hay to trap sediment in ditches, the project has resulted in the completed restoration of 215 acres and paved the way for restoration of an additional 8,000 acres currently in process. The Great Marsh Restoration Project is leading the way through collaboration with marsh owners and permitting agencies to restore this nationally significant natural resource using innovative, nature-based techniques.

Ann K. Gisinger, Executive Director of the Environmental Business Council of New England, praised the project for “providing a path forward for marsh restoration across the Eastern Seaboard of the United States through a successful pilot project to restore the hydrology of the Great Marsh.”

“This is a great honor for The Trustees to be recognized for our work on the Great Marsh,” said Cynthia Dittbrenner, The Trustees Interim Vice President of Conservation and Resilience. “All of the partners involved do this work because we are truly invested in the future health of our marsh. It’s been nice to celebrate what we have accomplished together and be equally inspired by other award-winning work recognized by the EBC.”

The Trustees of Reservations and the USFWS were honored at the Annual EBC APEX Awards Celebration on June 13 at City Winery in Boston, Massachusetts.


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