Spring 2023

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In “Notes from the Coast,” we delve into a particular topic area, share thoughts and questions we’re exploring at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, and celebrate the good work you’re making possible.

Kate Stookey, MCHT President and CEO


Have you ever considered the connection between tidal marshes and climate resilience? Since joining Maine Coast Heritage Trust a year ago, I’ve learned a lot about tidal marshes, which are among the most important coastal ecosystems.

Did you know that Maine’s salt marshes are roughly ten times more effective at storing carbon on a per-acre basis than Maine’s forestland? When they’re damaged or destroyed, an enormous amount of carbon is emitted back into the atmosphere.

This is one of many reasons why tidal marsh protection is a key component of MCHT’s effort to minimize the impacts of climate change. When we protect marsh systems and help them function as well as possible, we’re protecting wildlife habitat, people’s homes, and other infrastructure, all while reducing water pollution and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2016, MCHT launched its Marshes for Tomorrow Initiative to conserve areas that are currently tidal marsh and uplands that will, in ideal circumstances, become marsh as sea levels rise.

Along with partners including the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Widlife, Downeast Salmon Federation, local land trusts, and others, we’ve made progress in efforts to protect and restore some of these critical coastal ecosystems. This progress is encouraging and, with your ongoing support, we’ll continue to conserve Maine’s most vital and resilient marshes.

Please send questions or thoughts about how MCHT is prioritizing wetland protection and restoration to me at or via this form.

As always, I’d love to hear from you.


At Old Pond Preserve in Hancock we’re working with restoration specialists to improve the functionality of the marsh, which was extensively manipulated for salt hay harvesting starting as early as the 17th century.

This is one of the first restoration projects of its kind in Maine, and MCHT will be sharing learnings with other land trusts and groups in the state caring for salt marshes.


B E V E R L Y  J O H N S O N

Professor of Earth and Climate Sciences at Bates College

Photo Courtesy Of Beverly Johnson

Beverly has been studying Maine’s marshes since 2002. In particular, she’s interested in the carbon dynamics and history of salt marshes, what they reveal about environmental conditions past and present, and what that may tell us about the future.

In recent years, Bates College students in Bev’s classes have been taking core samples from tidal marshes protected by Maine Coast Heritage Trust. Data generated here and elsewhere on the coast is being used by state and international groups to better understand how

carbon is captured and stored in coastal wetlands, and what management techniques can increase carbon sequestration.

“Approximately 50% of historical coastal wetlands have been lost. The vast majority have been altered by human activities which diminish their ability to sequester and store carbon,” says Bev. “MCHT is playing a critical role in conserving and restoring coastal wetlands here in Maine, which has significant climate mitigation benefits that we’re learning more about every day.”


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About 70% of Maine’s commercial fish species spend some portion of their life cycle in marshes, including clams, mussels, and lobsters.

Tidal marshes act as sponges, soaking up storm surge and reducing flood damage and erosion, saving the state millions of dollars annually.

Healthy coastal wetlands clean water by filtering out excess nutrients and other harmful chemicals and are extremely effective at absorbing carbon from the atmosphere.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust has completed over 35 marsh protection projects over the past six years, and currently has another 25 active projects in the pipeline.

Learn more at

Sources, in order: 1. “Maine’s Salt Marshes: Their Functions, Values, and Restoration”; 2. and 3. Northeast Regional Ocean Council’s “Make Way for Marsh”

Photo of Kate: Katherine Emery
Photo of Old Pond Preserve: Redbird Media Group
Photo of Beverly: courtesy of Beverly Johnson