The Marsh Island Salt Marsh Restoration Project has launched. This project will restore approximately 11 acres of salt marsh along New Bedford Harbor in Fairhaven, lost since the late 1930’s, and once fully complete, the restored marsh will be opened to the public with a perimeter loop trail that has three overlooks, a pedestrian bridge over the restored creek and a small parking area at the end of Taber Street.
Marsh Island was originally largely salt marsh with granite outcrops and separated from the mainland by tidal creeks. It is now a peninsula and the largest remaining stretch of undeveloped land along the New Bedford Inner Harbor. Historically, Marsh Island was used for recreation and picnicking in the 1800’s until it was sold to the Wamsutta Mills in 1871 and then used as a granite quarry for several decades. Granite from the quarry was used to construct the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge. From the 1930’s to the 1950’s, sediment dredged from the harbor was used to fill the old quarry as well as the marshes on the island. More than half of the island was filled over time, and the total loss of wetlands on Marsh Island was part of a larger story — an estimated 134 acres of wetlands were filled along the Acushnet River with the construction of Textile Mills beginning in the 1880’s.
Restoration of the site will greatly benefit natural resources in this area and the community’s access to them. The project will remove historically-placed sandy fill and re-create a system of tidal creeks that will provide saltwater to newly planted marsh plants. Bringing back the salt marsh will substantially improve wetland hydrology, vegetation cover, wildlife habitat, flood and storm protection, and many important wetland functions within the site.
Buzzards Bay Coalition has designed the restored site to be waterfront accessible to the public with walking trails and beautiful overlook views. We hope, that like our restoration projects at the Sawmill and Horseshoe Mill, this site becomes a valued outdoor space for the community to enjoy.
This project is a conservation partnership of the New Bedford Harbor Trustee Council, MA Division of Ecological Restoration, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and Fairhaven-Acushnet Land Preservation Trust together with Buzzards Bay Coalition.