Published on January 4, 2021

EPA Supports Saltmarsh Restoration at South East Sanctuaries

Saltmarsh habitat at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in late summer

Two of Mass Audubon's wildlife sanctuaries in the South East region have been awarded $150,000 through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to restore saltmarsh habitats and make them more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

The EPA's Southeast New England Program (SNEP) has selected Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Westport and Dartmouth and Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Wareham among its 2020 Watershed Grant recipients. SNEP works in partnership with stakeholders including Mass Audubon "to promote resilient ecosystems of clean water, healthy diverse habitats, and sustainable communities in Southeast New England."

In addition to SNEP, community partners for the saltmarsh restoration project include the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, Save The Bay, the Town of Wareham, and the Wareham Land Trust.

The grant will fund a variety of science and restoration activities at the statewide conservation organization's coastal wildlife sanctuaries on Buzzards Bay, designed to improve understanding of the impacts of sea level rise on saltmarshes.

By doing so, Mass Audubon and other stakeholders will gain a better understanding of how best to  protect the human and natural communities that will be most affected, particularly in Wareham and Dartmouth.

Over the winter, staff and contractors will be at both sanctuaries preparing them to more robustly adapt to climate impacts, including rising ocean waters and more frequent storms. Specific infrastructure that affects tidal flow will be removed, including stone walls at Allen Pond and a decrepit squash court complex at Great Neck.

The grant also includes education and community-outreach elements, with the goal of achieving buy-in from residents and municipal leaders and agencies.

South East Community Science and Coastal Resilience Project Manager Gina Purtell thanked SNEP and said, "I like to think of us as venturing out with partners to reveal and share both the significance of these saltmarsh habitats that may have gone unnoticed and their close relationships with coastal municipalities.

"Now it's up to all of us,” Purtell noted, "to do all we can to address the climate impacts that are already coming so that such vulnerable landscapes can thrive."