Westport River Salt Marsh Study

Partners & Project Plan: 

The Westport Fishermen’s Association is partnering with the Buzzards Bay Coalition (BBC) to have the renowned Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) conduct a study this summer of the decline in salt marshes in the West Branch of the river. Dr. Linda Deegan will oversee the project. She is a senior scientist in the MBL Ecosystems Center. She has studied salt marsh loss in the Plum Island estuary.

The project will include developing a historical timeline of marsh loss and upland land use changes, comparing areas of creek widening and marsh loss with other more stable areas. In addition, the scientists will assess some potential causes, using image analysis compared to timing of coastal storms, rate of sea level rise, upland development, changes of sediment inputs and nutrient delivery. The study may also measure potential nutrient delivery in groundwater using well point sampling multiple times over the summer.  Finally, the study proposes to assess the structure and strength of the creek banks to evaluate their vulnerability to storms.

Help Fund the Study!

The WFA needs to raise up to $5,000 to fund a college student intern to conduct the field work and data collection. The MBL, BBC and WFA are all providing additional support, including laboratory analysis, staff support and site access. The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program will assist with the historical imagery analysis. This study will quantify the problem and point toward some of the contributors to this alarming collapse of salt marshes, which in turn degrades the habitat for fish and shellfish in our river.

To support this project you can send a check to WFA, PO Box 83, Westport Point, MA 02791, marked for ‘salt marsh study” or make an online donation via PayPal at http://westportriver.org/donate/. 100% of donations will go toward the intern stipend for this study. Thank you!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *