In 2016 the Westport Fishermen’s Association sounded the alarm about rapid degradation of salt marsh islands, particularly those in the West Branch of the Westport River. Salt marsh islands are a characteristic feature of both branches of the Westport Rivers. These productive coastal wetlands are important because they protect properties from storm surges, remove nutrients from the water and carbon from the atmosphere, and provide critical habitat for fish, shellfish, and shorebirds. In response, we teamed up with the Buzzards Bay Coalition, the Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center, and the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program to measure the rate of salt marsh loss and try to identify the causes.
The data are in and the news is not good at all. The Westport River is losing salt marsh islands at an accelerating rate and they are projected to entirely disappear within 60 years if nothing is done. Read the summary report here: Saltmarsh_loss_report_FINAL
Additional detail is in the full report: Westport Marsh Final Report_Mar2017