Great Marsh Eelgrass Restoration
Great Marsh, located in the Upper North Shore of Massachusetts, is the largest wetland-dominated estuary in New England. The area spans over 20,000 acres and is internationally recognized as vital habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds and endangered species. Great Marsh once contained acres of lush, thriving eelgrass meadows that were wiped out by the mid-1900s. In 2013, our team developed a model for the region that identified areas with good potential for the re-establishment and growth of eelgrass and we began test-transplanting eelgrass at the most suitable sites. With funding from NFWF we successfully restored 1.5 acres of eelgrass into Essex Bay between 2015 and 2017. The project was innovative in that it was almost entirely community-based. In addition, it was the first restoration to use multiple (5) donor sources of eelgrass from around the region to improve transplant success and increase genetic diversity, which is important to enhancing seagrass resilience to climate related stressors.
In 2019 we received a second round of funding from NFWF to expand our restoration efforts into Plum Island Sound. Between 2019 and 2021 we will be transplanting 1 acre of eelgrass into the southern portion of Plum Island Sound using various community groups.