Saving Maine Marshes

Protecting land is one of the most valuable tools we have to respond to climate change, and on the Maine coast, protection and restoration of tidal marshes has a profound impact. Tidal marshes are incredibly effective at removing gases like carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing them in roots and soils below—as much as ten times more effective than forests per acre! Marshes also help protect built infrastructure and provide essential habitat for countless species, including juvenile lobster and clams, herons, and the endangered salt marsh sparrow.

Recognizing the value of marshes, MCHT launched the Marshes for Tomorrow Initiative in late 2016. This coast-wide initiative—the only one of its kind in Maine—is focused on protecting undeveloped areas surrounding current marshes. As sea level rises, this will allow room for marsh systems to migrate inland while also providing a buffer for plants and animals sensitive to human disturbance.

Over the past six years, we’ve worked with partners to complete 36 marsh protection projects from York to Washington counties, conserving a total of about 1,800 acres of marsh and upland buffers. And we’re just getting started! We’re currently working on over twenty active marsh migration projects, with several expected to close before the end of the year.

“We have a long-term goal of conserving another 37,000 acres of marsh and adjacent uplands on the coast of Maine,” says MCHT’s Senior Community and Conservation Planner Jeremy Gabrielson. “This is an ambitious goal, but I’m hopeful as we continue to get the word out to potential partners and supporters and make progress every year.”

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