Thursday, July 1, 2010

New Culvert Installed at Labor in Vain Salt Marsh

Save The Bay first identified the Labor in Vain salt marsh system in Somerset, MA in 1996 as part of a bay-wide assessment of potential salt marsh projects. The site was also included in the Massachusetts Tidal Restriction Atlas and became a project of mine at the Massachusetts Riverways Program in 2004. Many years later, the upper marsh is coming back to life. A new culvert was installed last week that will allow tidal flushing into a section of marsh that was long inundated with fresh water and frozen in the winter to allow ice skating. A small pipe culvert and tide gate allowed very limited influx of salt water.

Skating weather had been harder and harder to come by in recent years, and the town eventually agreed to give up that use and restore full tidal flushing to this marsh which was gradually filling in with Phragmites. When I visited this new culvert yesterday, the channel was absolutely full of tiny young of the year mummichogs (small fish that are born and live their young lives in salt marshes). We also saw fresh animal tracks in the marsh. It was amazing to see this abundance of life in the newly formed tidal creek. Many project partners put in years of work on this project including the Town of Somerset and the Massachusetts Wetland Restoration Program. More work will hopefully be done on the downstream tidal restrictions in future years.