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The Fox Creek salt marsh on Argilla Road near Crane Beach in Ipswich, seen from Castle Hill. Salt marshes are a critical habitat for wildlife, play a vital role in cleaning and filtering water, and are an important factor in storm protection, acting as a buffer to absorb wind, waves, and flood water.

Shore Story A provocative tale for our coast BY JEFF HARDER The iconic marsh grass sprouts forming a green-and-brown collage on the drive out to Crane Beach are a familiar and welcome sight down Argilla Road. Early Ipswich settlers came here to source hay. Now, the salt marsh serves as nature’s 3,000-acre welcome sign for the visi-

tors journeying to the sand every summer while performing quiet, vital work: regulating tidal flows, ensuring biodiversity, serving as valuable habitat, taming storm surges, and safeguarding roads and built infrastructure. But within a few decades, the marsh could disappear. Sea-level rise, catastrophic flooding, and the fiercest face of coastal change could turn the marshes into tidal flats, or render

The marshes of the Commonwealth play an essential role in sustaining the Saltmarsh Sparrow (left). A species of greatest conservation need, as identified by Massachusetts' State Wildlife Action Plan, its nests are made of simple cups of grass stems and blades that sit on the high marsh. Nests are easily washed away and breeding thwarted by flooding due to storms, high tides, and rising sea levels.




Special Places | Summer 2017  

Special Places, Summer 2017 | Trustees Membership Magazine

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