Winsegansett Restoration Completion

2002 Winsegansett Marsh Restoration Press Release

Related pages:    Winsegansett Restoration Award

Winsegansett Salt Marsh Restoration Brochure (Fairhaven, MA, 213 kb pdf)

Contact: Sarah Wilkes
Phone: (508) 291-3625 ext. 13
Date: March 28, 2002


2002 Winsegansett Press Release

FAIRHAVEN – The Buzzards Bay NEP and the Town of Fairhaven recently completed a salt marsh restoration project at Winsegansett Marsh. The project was made possible through the cooperation of several town departments, state and federal agencies, and private citizens in Fairhaven.

Located on the western shore of Sconticut Neck in Fairhaven, this 30-acre salt marsh is connected by a series of tidal creeks to the salt water of Buzzards Bay. Long ago the salt marsh was divided into two sections by the construction of Winsegansett Avenue. Additionally, the upper marsh had been further divided by privately-owned footpaths which cross through the marsh allowing access to the beach. To permit tidal flow into and out of the marsh, culverts had been placed under the road and footpaths. However, these culverts were too small to allow the necessary amount of tidal flushing to sustain natural salt marsh vegetation. As a result of the reduced amount of tidal water reaching the upper marsh, the salinity of the marsh was lowered. Over time, this reduction in salinity resulted in natural salt marsh vegetation being replaced by invasive plant species, such as common reed (Phragmites australis). Common reed, which forms tall reedy thickets and chokes out many native plant species, has very limited value as habitat for wildlife.

The goal of the Winsegansett Salt Marsh project was to restore the salt marsh habitat in the upper marsh by replacing the four culverts and increasing tidal flow. With the help of various granting agencies, the generosity of the private landowners, and the assistance of the Fairhaven Conservation Commission, Fairhaven Board of Public Works and the Buzzards Bay NEP, larger, more appropriately sized culverts were installed under Winsegansett Avenue and the 3 footpaths. The improved tidal exchange between the upper marsh and Buzzards Bay is expected to cause the common reed to die off and be replaced by native salt meadow grasses.

Prior to construction the Buzzards Bay NEP, with the assistance of local volunteers, collected baseline data on the health of Winsegansett Marsh. Monitoring of biological parameters will continue throughout the summer in an effort to document the expected improvements as the marsh is restored to a more healthy and productive coastal wetland. It is hoped that the restoration effort at Winsegansett Marsh will become a model for similar projects around Buzzards Bay.

Grant funding to complete the project, totaling more than $67,000, was secured from the Department of Environmental Protection ($22,500), the FishAmerica Foundation ($20,000), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ($9,700), the Massachusetts Environmental Trust ($8,400), and the Buzzards Bay NEP ($6,666).

Culvert, pre-construction.
Winsegansett Marsh Before.

Culvert, post-construction
Winsegansett Marsh After.