NRCS and MassAudubon partner to restore salt marsh at Allens Pond
Wildlife Sanctuary, South Dartmouth
A Culvert Operation
NRCS and Mass Audubon partner to restore salt marsh at Allens Pond Wildlife
Sanctuary, South Dartmouth
tidal flow to a seven acre South Dartmouth salt marsh has been restored thanks
to a partnership between the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
and the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Through the federal Wildlife Habitat
Incentives Program (WHIP), NRCS provided $13,128 in cost-share assistance, as
well as technical assistance, to replace a culvert in the Allens Pond Wildlife
Sanctuary that was too small.
The original 12-inch concrete culvert under a road, the only connection
between Allens Pond and the salt marsh, provided inadequate tidal exchange. The
result was a change in water salinity that allowed Phragmites sp., a tall
invasive grass, to replace shorter native salt-tolerant grass species.
The Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary land sits on a pristine salt pond—one of
the few remaining in the Northeast—along with several types of habitat that
support rare wildlife. The salt marsh was identified as a priority tidal
restriction site in the Atlas of Tidally Restricted Salt Marshes in the Buzzards
Bay Watershed, published by the Buzzards Bay Project National Estuary Program.
new culvert, designed by NRCS engineer Dan Barnett, is comprised of four 24-inch
polyethylene pipes, which allows for more normal tidal exchange. NRCS soil
conservationist Bernie Taber served as project manager for the culvert
replacement, working closely with Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary Director Gina
Additional planning, technical assistance, and construction support was
provided by the Buzzards Bay National Estuaries Program, the Dartmouth
Conservation Commission and the Bristol County Mosquito Board.
in January 2005, the culvert replacement was one component of a larger $2.3
million restoration project to protect approximately 156 acres along Buzzards
Bay, part of a contiguous block of 1,000 acres of protected habitats, including
salt marsh, coastal oak woodlands, and grasslands.
Other partners that have played a role in the overall protection of the area
include a private landowner, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and
Recreation, Buzzards Bay Project, and the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust.
“We’re pleased to have had this opportunity to join with Mass Audubon to
restore this important salt marsh in the Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary,” said
Cecil B. Currin, NRCS State Conservationist for Massachusetts. “Without the
commitment of Mass Audubon and the generous support of all the partners, this
project could not have happened.”
marshes are transitional areas between land and water along the shore of
estuaries. Subjected to the daily rise and fall of the sea, the salt marsh
environment is constantly moving and changing. In salt marshes, incoming
fresh-water from rivers, streams, and wetlands mix with the tidal saltwater
resulting in frequent and rapid changes in salinity, temperature, and water
depth within the marsh system.
Many salt marshes have been impacted by human activities. Bridges and
culverts installed to allow movement of tidal waters are often too small to
allow full tidal flows necessary to maintain natural salt marsh vegetation.
Salt marshes provide habitat and protected nursery areas for juvenile fish,
shellfish, crustaceans, and small mammals. Salt marshes also act as filters for
pollutants and provide a buffer for coastal storms, reducing the impacts of
flooding and erosion to the coastline.
WHIP is a voluntary conservation program of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture that provides technical and financial assistance to landowners for
developing, improving or managing wildlife habitat or for restoring natural
ecosystems on eligible land.
by Diane Baedeker Petit, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS Massachusetts
Photos courtesy of the Massachusetts Audubon Society
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