The Marshes for Tomorrow Initiative
Did you know that salt marshes are taking care of you?
They’re absorbing carbon dioxide from the air you breathe and defending your home and community from damaging floods by absorbing storm surge. They are nurseries for the fish you eat—including the lobster your local economy runs on.
They are also in trouble.
Over the next 100 years, global sea level is projected to rise between one and two meters, potentially destroying some of our most productive ecosystems.
Through land conservation, we can do something to save our salt marshes. Maine Coast Heritage Trust has begun a state-wide initiative to protect undeveloped lands surrounding Maine’s most resilient salt marshes. That way, as sea levels rise and salt water creeps inland, marsh plants will have places to reestablish themselves.
Key Components of the Initiative
Strategic Marshland Conservation
Larger marshes with undeveloped upland buffers will likely be most resilient to sea level rise. Their protection is critical to sustaining Maine’s biodiversity and marine economy into the future. With your generous support, MCHT will protect these special places while there’s still time.
Dams and other tidal barriers hurt Maine’s marshes, blocking and altering water flow and endangering fish and birds that rely on tidal marshes. Working cooperatively with willing land owners, MCHT will support state-wide efforts to prioritize and remove barriers, helping to restore Maine’s marshlands.
To date, MCHT has protected over 1,600 acres of marshland across the coast and has decades-worth of experience in habitat protection and invasive species management. We will further develop and refine stewardship practices to share with other coastal land trusts, environmental organizations, and local municipalities. Successful conservation will also protect important habitat for migratory shore birds, waterfowl, and wading birds.
As the only state-wide land trust focusing on the whole coast, MCHT is uniquely positioned to lead the charge to protect Maine’s marshes. We will coordinate cross-organizational communication between research groups, local land trusts and conservation partners, educate and increase public awareness, and advocate for marshland protection in Augusta.
Map of top-ranked marshes for resilience
Ongoing and recent marsh migration projects
On the Cousins River in Yarmouth, three land trusts are working to protect 82 acres and add to the extensive network of conserved lands in the area. Our goal is to ensure that the shoreline remains undeveloped so that it can accommodate the movement of the marsh as sea level rises. Cousins River is one of 67 top-ranked sites on the Maine coast where we have the chance to protect the marshland that sustains our coastal biodiversity and marine economy. In early 2022, we completed fundraising for the project, and we expect to purchase the property and open it to the public later in 2023.
Completed marsh migration projects include the protection of 238 acres on the Weskeag Marsh in South Thomaston, which resulted in the expansion of a lovely public preserve. A creative conservation project on Mount Desert Island protected uplands surrounding Jones Marsh while also assisting in the creation of much-needed workforce housing on the island.
Much of our marsh-related involves numerous stakeholders and yields both ecological and economic benefits for communities. In Machias, for example, we’re working with the town of Machias and the Downeast Salmon Federation on a project to improve the Machias dike to allow for marsh restoration opportunities and improved fish passage while preserving the dike’s unique cultural and economic value to the community.
Did you know? Fast facts about Maine’s wetlands
- Maine’s wetlands save millions of dollars annually through erosion control, reduced flood damage, and pollution abatement.
- Countless commercial and sport fish species spend some portion of their life cycle in marshes – including clams, mussels, and lobsters.
- Marshes are renowned duck and shorebird habitat and feeding grounds for osprey, herons, and eagles.
- Marshes are roughly 10 times more effective at storing carbon on a per-acre basis than Maine forestland.
Give to protect Maine’s marshes
If you’ve been looking for a tangible, productive way to act locally in the face of global climate change, here it is. Together we can protect land today to ensure Maine’s marshes can reestablish themselves tomorrow. Every dollar donated to the Marshes for Tomorrow Initiative is also a gift for clean air and water, for birds and fish, and for all who live on this coast.
Let’s not wait until our marshes are gone to realize how much we depend upon them.