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Salt Marsh Protected in Hammett’s Cove

In late 2021, Northeast Wilderness Trust acquired 27 acres of salt marsh and coastal forest in Marion, Massachusetts. The Marion Marsh Wilderness Preserve will be kept wild so that it will continue to store carbon, filter water, and offer safe homes for wildlife for generations to come.

This land offers food, shelter, and breeding grounds for fish, crabs, seabirds, turtles, and other ocean-dwellers. Notably, the threatened Diamondback Terrapin find their homes in New England salt marshes, including here in Hammett’s Cove. These Terrapins have been in decline because of loss of habitat and nesting sites. This loss is caused by development, and by the effects of climate change including flooding, sea level rise, and erosion. Protecting this land as wilderness means these terrapins will find a home here for as long as nature allows.

Salt marshes are flooded and then drained by tides. Their soils consist of deep mud and peat, which is made from decomposing plant material. These conditions host a lush carpet of grasses, rushes, and sedges undulating with the winds and waves. These plants tolerate both high and low tides, and act as nurseries for fish and other ocean dwellers.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 80,000 acres of wetlands in coastal watersheds were lost each year between 2004 and 2009. The solution to this disturbing trend is protection from development.

Salt marshes like this one are not only beautiful ecosystems, they also offer important benefits such as:

  • protecting coastlines from flooding and storm damage,
  • cleaning pollutants from water as it reaches the ocean,
  • food, shelter, and nurseries for fish and aquatic invertebrates,
  • habitat for pelagic birds,
  • trapping and storing carbon in their deep mats of peat beneath the water,
  • and beauty.

Photography: Joe Falconeiri