The Great Marsh surrounds us. Drawing us in to its breathtaking beauty, we kayak it, swim it, fish it, paint it and just marvel at it. Anyone driving down Main Street in Essex at sunset can attest to how it never fails to astonish.
The Great Marsh comprises 25,000 coastal acres including marshes, tidal creeks, barrier beaches, islands, and mud flats. It is the largest contiguous salt marsh in New England extending from Gloucester to Hampton Harbor, New Hampshire — it is also one of the most crucial environmental ecosystems in North America. From August to November it provides a critical stop over for birds on the North Atlantic Flyway, taking a break to rest and feed on their journey from the Arctic to South America. It also, when healthy, holds the line between land and sea.
The marsh is showing signs of impact. Pollutants, development, over-use and abuse are all taking a toll on this vital ecosystem. But the largest contributor, by far, to the marsh’s peril, is climate change and subsequent rising sea levels. Restoration is tantamount. Local advocates such as Peter Phippen and the Great Marsh Partnership work tirelessly to find ways to protect and restore the marsh. As guardians of this natural wonder we cherish and rely upon, we too must make an effort to learn more and act.
A great place to start is by joining The Great Marsh Symposium for Restoration Matters, a panel discussion via Zoom on Wednesday, March 17 from 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 p.m.. Registration required, visit tinyurl.com/greatmarshsymposium.