EPA Supports Saltmarsh Restoration At Allens Pond and Great Neck

Release Date:
December 16, 2020

LINCOLN, MA.—A pair of Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries have been awarded $150,000 through an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) program to promote resilient ecosystems of clean water, healthy diverse habitats, and sustainable communities in Southeast New England.

The funding is provided through the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants, a partnership between EPA and Restore America's Estuaries, which selected Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary in Dartmouth and Great Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Wareham among its 2020 grant recipients. Mass Audubon will use the grant to restore saltmarsh habitats and make them more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Community partners for the saltmarsh restoration project include the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, Wareham Land Trust and Town of Wareham, Providence-based Save The Bay, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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 and protect these habitats from future climate change impacts.

By doing so, Mass Audubon and other stakeholders will better be able to protect the human and natural communities that will be most affected, particularly in Wareham and Dartmouth.

The SNEP funding will also position the sanctuaries to serve as models for broader regional climate resilience efforts in the future, from Buttermilk Bay to Narragansett Bay.

Over the winter, staff and contractors will develop plans and implement actions to help the salt marshes more robustly adapt to climate impacts, including rising ocean waters and more frequent storms.

Among the actions that will help these vital habitats remain resilient are removing impediments to tidal flow and saltmarsh landward movement, include invasive species, former livestock barriers at Allens Pond, and a decrepit squash court at Great Neck.

The grant also includes education and community-outreach elements, with the goal of building interest and commitment of residents, municipal leaders, and agencies. 

Mass Audubon South East Community Science and Coastal Resilience Program Manager Gina Purtell thanked SNEP for its crucial support and noted the importance of collaboration in such complex ecological projects.  

“I like to think of us as venturing out with partners to reveal the significance of these saltmarsh habitats that may have gone underappreciated, “ Purtell said, “and further enhance their interdependent relationships with coastal municipalities. 

 “It’s up to all of us,” she noted, “to do what we can to address climate change in coastal regions that are already being impacted, to both help communities become more resilient and ensure vulnerable saltmarshes can thrive.”

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Mass Audubon protects more than 38,000 acres of land throughout Massachusetts, saving birds and other wildlife, and making nature accessible to all. As Massachusetts' largest nature conservation nonprofit, we welcome more than a half million visitors a year to our wildlife sanctuaries and 20 nature centers. From inspiring hilltop views to breathtaking coastal landscapes, serene woods, and working farms, we believe in protecting our state's natural treasures for wildlife and for all people's vision shared in 1896 by our founders, two extraordinary Boston women.

Today, Mass Audubon is a nationally recognized environmental education leader, offering thousands of camp, school, and adult programs that get over 225,000 kids and adults outdoors every year. With more than 135,000 members and supporters, we advocate on Beacon Hill and beyond, and conduct conservation research to preserve the natural heritage of our beautiful state for today's and future generations. We welcome you to explore a nearby sanctuary, find inspiration, and get involved. Learn how at www.massaudubon.org.