EPA Supports Saltmarsh Restoration At Allens Pond and Great Neck
Michael P. O'Connor
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.”
Mass Audubon is the largest nature-based conservation organization in New England. Founded in 1896 by two women who fought for the protection of birds, Mass Audubon carries on their legacy by focusing on the greatest challenges facing the environment today: the loss of biodiversity, inequitable access to nature, and climate change. With the help of our 160,000 members and supporters, we protect wildlife, conserve and restore resilient land, advocate for impactful environmental policies, offer nationally recognized education programs for adults and children, and provide endless opportunities to experience the outdoors at our wildlife sanctuaries. Explore, find inspiration, and take action at www.massaudubon.org.