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Protecting U.S. Salt Marshes from the Effects of Global Warming1 Lorna Seitz

Overview Salt marshes are the most productive ecosystems on earth,2 yet their very survival is threatened by global warming. The degradation and eventual disappearance of a large percentage of the world's salt marshes would precipitate crashes in populations of commercially harvested fish, shore birds, horseshoe crabs, and numerous endangered species. Salt marsh loss will also significantly reduce the rate of natural filtration of pollutants from estuarine waters, either requiring humans to erect additional wastewater treatment facilities or resulting in closures of mariculture facilities, public shellfishing grounds, and beaches. Additionally, salt marshes reduce the storm intensity experienced by coastal communities by dampening wave strength.3 Thus, the destruction or substantial degradation of salt marshes could cause coastal developments to suffer


Due to the different scientific, economic and political challenges facing surrounding the protection of salt marshes in countries with different legal regimes, topographic features, and forms of riverine and coastal development, this paper is limited to an examination of the effects of global warming on U.S. salt marshes. It should be noted, however, that salt marshes throughout the world are threatened by global warming-induced increases in annual precipitation, storm intensity and rates of sea level rise. This paper's focus on the threats faced by salt marshes in the United States is driven by a desire to find a means to facilitate the survival of U.S. salt marshes in the face of global warming, and in no way reflects a conclusion that U.S. salt marshes face greater jeopardy, or are more important than, salt marshes in other nations. 2 "Salt Marsh Productivity," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2000) (See: 3 Dr. Elizabeth Wenner, Dynamics of the Salt Marsh, S. Carolina, An Information/Education Series from the Marine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. (See 1

increased damages as a result of medium and high intensity storms. The loss of salt marshes would constitute an enormous economic, ecological and aesthetic loss to society. This paper identifies coastal and riverine developments as factors that can significantly diminish, or utterly preclude, a salt marsh's ability to adapt to global warming. Bulkheads preclude salt marshes from migrating to higher ground in response to sea level rise, riverine levees decrease the rate of sediment deposition in salt marshes and jetties increase erosion rates in undeveloped, and unprotected, areas. This paper concludes by identifying various legal and financial mechanisms capable of protecting the ability of salt marshes to migrate and trap sufficient sediment to support a sufficient vertical growth rate to accommodate for global sea level rise. The legal mechanisms available for protecting salt marshes include: · legislatively establishing that a rolling public easement exists over intertidal lands; · exercising eminent domain over areas into which salt marshes will likely migrate during the next hundred years, and transforming these areas into National Estuarine Research Reserves, Wildlife Sanctuaries, or parks; · privatizing fishing rights, and using the funds raised from selling these rights to purchase sufficient estuarine habitat to serve as nurseries and breeding grounds for the allocated fish; · selling developmentally restricted lands including and abutting salt marshes to pharmaceutical companies for sustainable horseshoe crab harvesting;



defunding the National Flood Insurance Program, and allowing the high cost of private flood insurance hinder further floodplain development and rebuilding;


prohibiting the Army Corps of Engineers from erecting additional flood control levees along U.S. rivers, and prohibiting the Corps from spending additional funds to maintain existing levees, thereby allowing rivers to reclaim their historic courses and ending another governmental means of subsidizing flood plain development; and


zoning coastal areas for Planned Unit Developments, allowing increased development density in exchange for either increased coastal setbacks or decreased total coastal acreage developed.

Purchases of coastal lands and development rights are the primary financial mechanisms through which U.S. salt marshes can be assisted in surviving global warming. Though the use of various combinations of the above legal and financial tools is necessary to enable salt marshes to survive global warming, these tools may not, alone, be sufficient to facilitate salt marsh survival. More research is needed to discover whether or not salt marshes are capable of migrating to upland areas at rates which will equal, or outpace, the anticipated rates of sea level rise in the next century. In areas where the rate of sea level rise is anticipated to be particularly high, humans may need to facilitate rapid salt marsh migration by acting to encourage the rapid peat development in, and colonization of, upland areas. National Estuarine Research Reserve scientists, community groups, and schools should design and carry out experiments to see what actions can be taken to facilitate the rate of marsh migration.


If all of the above steps are taken, global warming related salt marsh losses can be kept to a minimum. It is vitally important that we act now to halt further land uses that would threaten the long term viability of salt marshes. Once a parcel of land has been developed, it can become inordinately expensive for either the government or an environmental non-profit to remove the problematic structure. Actions to preserve salt marshes must occur before the rate of sea level rise accelerates further, and coastal property owners begin to panic about how to preserve their properties from coastal flooding. It is also imperative that we act immediately to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so that the rate of global warming does not further increase. A discussion of methods of reducing green house gas emissions is, however, beyond this paper's scope.

Salt Marshes Salt marshes are transitional areas between land and water exhibiting biota capable of surviving in this high salinity, intermittently flooded, environment. Salt marshes are found along the intertidal shores of estuaries and sounds. A marsh is classified as a salt marsh so long as the salinity of the interstitial waters exceeds that of fresh water. As the sea level rises, salt marshes increasingly extend into the mouths of rivers, as well as into upland areas.


The plants found in salt marshes differ from those found in fresh water marshes because they are specially adapted to life in a saline environment. In order to prevent dehydration through osmosis, some salt water marsh plants concentrate salts in their roots.4 This causes the plant's salinity to exceed that of the surrounding interstitial water, allowing water to be drawn into the plant's roots, rather than from them. Other salt marsh plants cope with the high salinity conditions by excreting salt from pores along their stems.5 Marsh plants also need strong roots, so they will not be dislodged from the ground either during regular tidal fluctuations or during more severe storm episodes,6 and they need to be capable of surviving prolonged periods of root exposure.7 The


"Arcata Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Saltwater Vegetation," Humboldt State University (2000). (See: 5 Id. 6 Id. 7 "Coastal Salt Marshes," California Environmental Resources Evaluation System, California Resources Agency (1994). (See: 5

distribution of marsh plants reflects each species' salinity, tidal flux, and UV tolerance thresholds.8 Global sea level has been rising for centuries.9 However, the rate of sea level rise is anticipated to increase as a result of increased rates of global warming10 and polar ice cap melt.11 Though salt marshes have proven capable of migrating to higher ground and further up river deltas in response to sea level rise thus far, it is unclear whether or not salt marshes are capable of migrating at the pace necessitated by an increased rate of sea level rise.12 If salt marsh species are incapable of colonizing upland areas as the salinity and tidal flux conditions in these areas come within their tolerance ranges, the total area colonized by salt marsh species will decline. Species that cannot migrate upland at the same rate as the sea will become swamped, their UV and salinity tolerances exceeded, and they may be incapable of surviving.


Dr. Elizabeth Wenner, Dynamics of the Salt Marsh, S. Carolina, An Information/Education Series from the Marine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. (See 9 See Appendix A 10 "Key Strategic Issues Concerning Coastal Areas and Climate Change," 1998 Year of the Ocean, Impacts of Global Climate Change with Emphasis on U.S. Coastal Areas. (See: 11 Id. 12 The White House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) is currently compiling research data which may establish the limits of salt-marsh ability to adapt to sea-level rise by migrating to upland areas. 1998 Year of the Ocean, Impacts of Global Climate Change with Emphasis on U.S. Coastal Areas, at G-34. (See: 6

The Value of Salt Marshes Ensuring the long term survival of large, healthy, and productive salt marshes is of critical local, regional, and international importance. Salt marshes provide valuable ecosystemic, waste water treatment and flood control services. Salt marshes also serve as homes to numerous species; some of which are endangered, of high commercial value, and of high value to medical researchers. The significance of salt marshes to nearby communities cannot be underestimated. In many coastal communities, salt marshes are at the center of local cultural and community life. What would Maine be without lobster, Louisiana without shrimp or Cape Cod without clams? In all of these regions, species which rely on salt marshes during all or part of their life cycle are widely collected and consumed, and serve as the basis for countless festivals, on a local basis. Salt marshes are necessary to sustain the commercial viability of the coastal fisheries upon which many coastal communities rely. 70% of commercial fish depend upon salt marshes for all or part of their lives.13 The total take of U.S. commercial fisheries in 1999 was more than 4.2 metric tons, or more than $3.5 billion worth of fish.14 If 70% of the total value of U.S. commercial fishing is salt marsh reliant, salt marshes contributed approx. $ 2.45 billion dollars to the U.S. GDP in fish alone in 1999. Endangered species of fish, and endangered birds reliant upon fish as food sources, also rely upon coastal salt marshes.15


"Salt Marshes: A Critical Narragansett Bay Habitat, Save the Bay (2000) (See: 14 "Fisheries of the United States," Fisheries Statistics & Economics, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (October, 23 2000). (See: 15 See Appendix A for a partial list of Endangered and Threatened animals found in National Estuarine Research Reserves containing salt marshes. 7

As global warming progresses, the habitats birds currently rely on during migration may cease to be sufficient to meet their needs. Declines in migratory bird populations will adversely affect the interests of bird watchers, hunters and environmentalists throughout the birds' range. Failure to adequately protect migratory birds, and their habitat, will also cause the U.S. to violate its treaty obligations to Canada.16

Spotlight Species: The Horseshoe Crab Research based on the Horseshoe Crab has served as the basis for 3 Nobel Prizes.17 The most recent Nobel Prize was awarded for insights into human vision and cognitive processing gained through experimentation on Horseshoe Crabs. The medical profession uses an extract from the horseshoe crab's blue, copper-based blood called to test the purity of medicines. This product, limulus amoebocyte lysate (LAL), is important in detecting e-coli contamination in medicines.18 There is no substitute for LAL. The horseshoe crab's shell has been used to speed blood clotting and to make absorbable sutures.19 Horseshoe crabs have also been harvested for use as bait and dried for use as fertilizer and poultry food supplements.20 Horseshoe crabs are also important to the healthy functioning of the salt water


The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 701 et seq.). (See: 17 Alex Hawes, "Crabs in the Crossfire," ZooGoer 28(3) 1999. (See: 18 John Henkel, "Drugs of the Deep," U.S. Food and Drug Administration (1998). (See: 19 John Henkel, "Drugs of the Deep," U.S. Food and Drug Administration (1998). (See: 20 "Horseshoe Crab, Living Fossil," National Aquarium in Baltimore (1997) (See: 8

marshes within which they are found. The eggs of horseshoe crabs are important sources of food for migratory shore birds.21 Fish also eat the juveniles or recent molts.22 Due to historic over-harvesting for bait, and their importance as the sole source of LAL, there are currently harvest restrictions for horseshoe crabs along the mid and northern Atlantic coast of the U.S.23

Horseshoe Crabs

21 22

Id. 23 "Horseshoe Crab Conservation," ABC News Associated Press (February 29, 2000) (See:; "Fishery Threatens Horseshoe Crabs, Shorebirds," CNN (October 2, 1998) (See: 9

Threats to Salt Marshes Though this paper is primarily focusing on the effects of sea level rise on salt marsh health and migration, global warming is also affecting salt marshes by altering the geographic distribution, timing, and intensity of rain and snow fall.24 Global warming results in the melting of polar ice caps, and results in a corresponding increase in the percentage of the earth's surface that is covered by ocean. By increasing the percentage of the earth covered by ocean, and continuing to increase global temperatures, evaporation rates also increase. Higher evaporation rates lead to increased precipitation. As the rate of global climate change increases, riverine, as well as coastal, flood severity will increase.25 Increased rainfall in the Mississippi River watershed, for example, would increase the frequency and intensity of flooding along the Mississippi and it's tributaries. Increased incidences of severe flooding will increase pressures to build additional levees along U.S. rivers to protect property from the destructive effects of flooding. In fact, increased incidences of flooding along the Mississippi are already increasing pressures to build new levees, and to increase the height of existing ones.26 The erection of levees along the Mississippi and it's tributaries threatens downstream marshlands because the levees divert the Mississippi from flooding downstream estuaries on a regular basis. Channeling the Mississippi River prevents water


"Key Strategic Issues Concerning Coastal Areas and Climate Change," 1998 Year of the Ocean, Impacts of Global Climate Change with Emphasis on U.S. Coastal Areas. (See: 25 Robert Watson, Marufu Zinyowera & Richard Moss (Eds.), The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An assessment of vulnerability, A Special Report of IPCC Working Group II, Published for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Nov. 1997). (See: 26 Douglas Jehl, "Mississippi Floods Revive Debate on What Government Should Do," The New York Times, A1, A16 (April 27, 2001). 10

from flowing over areas which would otherwise constitute wetlands, increases in-stream flow rates and water volume, and reduces the area on which sediment deposition can occur. By reducing the rate of sediment deposition in Mississippi delta estuaries, these estuaries may have become incapable of naturally increasing elevation to compensate for sea level rise.27 If additional levees are erected, other coastal marshes may suffer a fate similar to that of estuaries in the Mississippi River Delta: namely, their rates of land-subsidence relative to sea level may be accelerated beyond the rates envisioned by current modeling efforts. Current sea-level rise models fail to account for the possibility that rates of sediment deposition in marshes may decrease due to the erection of additional upstream levees. Increasing the levee system along U.S. rivers amounts to a subsidy to developers who wish to build in the river bed. The market itself should prevent people from developing in the floodplain. It is often prohibitively expensive, or impossible, to purchase private flood insurance to cover developments in frequently and severely flooded areas. Were federally-subsidized flood insurance and federal disaster assistance unavailable, private developers might find it uneconomic to build, or to rebuild, in the floodplain. The federal government can, at no expense to itself, virtually prevent further development of frequently flooded areas by discontinuing federal flood insurance programs, and federal disaster relief areas where flooding was substantially foreseeable. Furthermore, the Army Corps of Engineers can substantially reduce the incidence of


"Key Strategic Issues Concerning Coastal Areas and Climate Change," 1998 Year of the Ocean, Impacts of Global Climate Change with Emphasis on U.S. Coastal Areas. (See: 11

riverine levees by curtailing further levee building and maintenance efforts.

Bulkheads & Rolling Public Easements The implementation of coastal-protection measures to protect developed land from the adverse effects of sea level rise could increase the rates of salt marsh loss along the Pacific and Atlantic coasts significantly beyond current estimates. Bulkheads are a common method of protecting coastal property from erosion and storm damage. Bulkheads prohibit salt marshes from migrating to upland areas by covering the land that the marsh would otherwise migrate over, or to, with a hard, impermeable surface such as concrete.

As coastal build up and sea level rise both continue, pressures to erect bulkheads to protect private property from the incursion of the sea will mount. These bulkheads will


undoubtedly be constructed to protect developed land, thus deflecting the tidal energy towards the undeveloped, and unprotected, estuaries upon which many species of fish and birds rely.28 The erection of jetties could also constitute a significant threat to estuarine habitat, as jetties are commonly used to protect developed areas and community beaches, displacing marine sediment from unprotected areas into ones just up current of the jetties.29 Efforts to protect human property from sea level rise, increasing storm severity and increasing erosion rates will necessitate that undeveloped coastal areas disproportionately bare the environmental stresses caused by global warming and sea level rise. The construction of new bulkheads and jetties can be prohibited either if the proposed barrier is found to constitute a nuisance or if the proposed barrier encroaches upon land to which either the federal or state government holds pre-existing use-rights. In states where there is a recognized right of public access to the intertidal zone for subsistence and/or recreational fishing, claming, seashell collection or recreational enjoyment, this right could result from either the public trust doctrine,30 a statue or deed


"Flood Control and Shoreline Protection," Army Corps of Engineers (See: 29 Texas Coastwide Erosion Response Plan, Texas General Land Office (2 July 1999). (See: 30 The most common form of governmentally held servitude over private coastal lands is based in the public trust doctrine. The public trust doctrine recognizes that certain natural resources are must be held in common for the public good. The application of the public trust doctrine to the intertidal zone recognizes the public's right to continue using the intertidal zone in the manner which pre-dated the division and sale of beachfront land. In many jurisdictions, the public did not relinquish its rights to use intertidal lands when specific individuals were granted permission to build on the abutting upland property. Applying the public trust doctrine to protect salt marshes would protect the public's historic, and continuing, interests in these areas. 13

restrictions applicable to all beachfront properties. Though individuals who own coastal property have an interest in protecting their homes, private property owners should not be able to claim full use rights to lands held in public trust by erecting bulkheads which prevent the upland migration of inter-tidal habitats. The migration of salt marshes (and mudflats) should, like erosion, be viewed as a risk associated with owning coastal property. In areas prone to erosion, or facing relative sea level rise, coastal property owners should realize that their lot sizes will diminish as a result of natural forces, and that they have no right to infringe upon historic use rights, or to increase erosion rates on their neighbor's land, by erecting barriers to prevent natural erosion and marsh migration from occurring. In states where there are no laws currently on the books which make explicit the existence of a rolling public easement over coastal lands,31 such laws need to be passed so homeowners , buyers and developers will understand their development and use rights. The existence of rolling public easements also needs to be clarified to help coastal zone planners, zoning boards and the Army Corps of Engineers understand the extent to which they can restrict further coastal development without needing to compensate land owners for "taking" their property. Establishing the existence of rolling public easements over intertidal lands should be the highest priority in protecting coastal salt marshes, because each time the existence of a rolling public easement over intertidal lands is determinatively established, there will be some protection against further development of coastal areas throughout the entire state. Furthermore, as a rolling public easement would


Rolling Public Easements often allow people to build in coastal areas, but require that all structures built are removed when threatened by an advancing shore line. (See: "Global Warming ­ Coastal Zones," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 14

be based, in large part, upon the public trust doctrine, all citizens should have the right obtain judicial review of decisions by zoning authorities or by the Army Corps of Engineers to allow any development in the intertidal zone, including the development of bulkheads and jetties.

Conservation Easements - Purchased In states which reject the rolling public easement idea, it is important to organize coastal communities behind initiatives to purchase development rights for lands onto which salt marshes will be likely to migrate within the next 100 years. In states where rolling public easements have been rejected, local community groups and national environmental non-profits should be approached as sources of funding for purchasing development rights. When local community groups are educated as to the value of salt marshes to their local economies, they will likely become interested in ensuring that healthy salt marshes exist well into the future. Thus, members of the community who collect shellfish, engage in recreational or commercial fishing or birding, operate tourism-dependant businesses, run marine aquaculture facilities, and/or swim in coastal waters should be educated as to how salt marshes protect their economic and recreational interests. Members of national land trusts can educate members of the local communities as to the value of acting quickly to protect salt marshes, and can advise them on how to go about purchasing development rights and conservation easements over coastal lands.32


See Appendix C 15

Conservation Easements, Voluntary Owners of land abutting salt marshes often purchased the property due to a love of the marsh's beauty. Once knowledgeable of the threats which further development of their property might pose to the marsh's future survival, abutting land owners might willingly restrict their future property development by donating a conservation easement over their land to a local or national land trust. Individuals owning land near marshes could be further encouraged to encumber their land with conservation easements if the existence of a conservation easement were to reduce the taxes assessed on the property. Reducing the taxes imposed on developmentally-encumbered land reasonably reflects the property's diminished re-sell value.

Current Efforts at Marsh Preservation ­ The National Estuarine Research Reserve System The National Estuarine Research Reserve System protects a total of more than one million acres of estuarine habitat divided between twenty-five different reserves in the United States.33 The reserves are used as centers for estuarine research and education. Community and regional groups are encouraged to participate with NERR scientists in developing plans to protect the reserves from the adverse effects of off-site land use activities. The NERRS also centrally compiles data on changes in water depth, temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, turbidity, pH, and biota in the various reserves.34 The reserves may someday provide information on the ability of salt marshes to adapt to


Theresa Shearer, National Estuarine Research Reserve System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (April 29, 2001). (See: 34 Theresa Shearer, "System-wide Monitoring Program," National Estuarine Research Reserve System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (April 29, 2001). (See: 16

sea level rise and reduced sedimentation rates which proves vital to developing coastal management plans which ensure future salt marsh survival. Monitoring of the NERRs can reveal the effects of land-use and climate changes on salt marshes.35 To date, the scope of NERR research has been severely limited by funding constraints, and there are no significant funding increases visible on the horizon. The future success of the NERRs in identifying how to protect salt marshes from the adverse effects of global warming may well be contingent upon the ability of NERR staff to enlist the assistance of welltrained community members to engage in marsh monitoring activities on a volunteer basis.

35 17

The National Estuarine Research Reserve system represents an important step in protecting America's salt marshes. However, though the NERRs provide some fish and bird habitat, they are merely habitat islands in a sea of development. These reserves, standing alone, cannot provide the same quantity of salt marsh habitat that existed before coastal development, or that exists today. Not only is the rate of coastal development increasing, but so is our national appetite for fish. As consumer demand for fish increases, the commercial value of salt marshes as breeding grounds for marine fisheries, will continue to increase. Good economics suggests that salt marshes should be protected for their highest sustainable use, and that is for use as fish habitat. The National Estuarine Research Reserves, though a step in the right direction, do not provide sufficient habitat to support the trillions of pounds of fish which Americans consume annually. These reserves were envisioned as areas for research and community education, not as sufficient estuarine protection in their own right. If the U.S. commercial fisheries are to regain economic viability, not only do all currently functional salt marshes need to be preserved, but historic salt marshes must also be restored and areas of probable future marsh migration need to remain undeveloped.

Conclusion Salt marshes perform invaluable and irreplaceable ecosystemic services. Their preservation should be a high priority for all environmentalists, land use planners, fishermen, fish consumers, bird lovers and coastal residents. Salt marshes will be swamped, their plants dying out as salinity and UV tolerances are exceeded, unless the marshes either are protected from sea level rise or are able to migrate to upland areas at a


rate which exceeds the rate of sea level rise. Since sea level rise is unavoidable, we need to take actions now to increase the chances that salt marsh plants will be capable of migrating to upland areas. The first step which must be taken is that the areas surrounding current salt marshes need to remain undeveloped, as the development of these areas would absolutely prevent marsh migration. Possible means of protecting upland areas from development include: · enacting laws which explicitly state there is a rolling public easement over the intertidal zone, · · purchasing development rights over coastal lands, offering discounted tax rates to land owners who sell or donate to a conservation trust the right to develop coastal lands, and · encouraging governmental entities to purchase additional land for NERRs and natural coastal parks. The protection of upland areas, though necessary to protect the ability of salt marshes to adapt to sea level rise, may not, on its own, be sufficient to protect salt marshes. In addition to protecting upland areas to allow marsh migration, stream flows must be protected in order to ensure that rates of sediment deposition are sufficient to enable vertical marsh growth at rates equal to, or exceeding, sea level rise. At a minimum, new levees should not be erected to control flooding in upstream areas. Additionally, the social, ecological and economic importance of salt marshes necessitates that marsh restoration efforts be undertaken. Many of these efforts will require that fill, earthen


seawalls, and exotic plants be removed.36 Historic stream flows should also, where possible, be restored to provide an adequate rate of sediment deposition. Galvanizing the public to act to preserve salt marshes requires, first and foremost, education. People who rely on salt marshes for their very survival need to understand the extent of their reliance upon these highly productive areas and they need to gain a sense of their duty to protect salt marshes. The NERR's focus on community education is a step in the right direction. All salt marshes near inhabited areas should serve as classrooms for educating school children, neighbors and community groups about what salt marshes are, how they function, and what ecosystemic, ecological and economic services they provide. Community members should be involved in monitoring salt marshes, and the data which they collect should be added to the NERR's national data base. There is still insufficient understanding of the species that inhabit the various salt marsh regions, the salinity tolerances of various plants, and the upland migration rates of salt marshes. The NERRs currently lack sufficient funding or personnel to conduct all of the experiments which they have planned. Training and meaningful use of community members in species identification, biodiversity surveying, and marsh restoration efforts may be necessary if the NERRs are to understand salt marsh ecology in time to save the marshes from the adverse effects of global warming. Immediate action to prevent further development within the future coastal and riverine floodplains, in combination with increased research into techniques for assisting the rates of marsh migration, should be able to keep global-warming induced salt marsh


See The Essex Elementary and Middle School's Salt Marsh web page at:


losses to a minimum. Given the economic, cultural and ecological importance of salt marshes, it is imperative that we act quickly to ensure that salt marshes can persevere well into the future.


Appendix A

See: Environmental Defense Fund website (


Appendix B

Endangered and Threatened Species Found in National Estuarine Research Reserves Birds

Light-footed clapper rail California Least Tern Belding's Savannah Sparrow Least Bell's Vireo California Brown Pelican Florida Scrub Jay Peregrine Falcon Tijuana River Reserve Tijuana river, Elkhorn Tijuana River Tijuana River Tijuana River, Elkhorn, South Slough Rookery Bay Tijuana River, Elkhorn, South Slough, Mt. Vernon, Wells, Mullica River, Chesapeake Bay, N. Carolina, Sapelo Island, Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Tijuana River Wells, Waquoit Bay, Mullica River, N. Carolina Sapelo Island Wells, Waquoit Bay, Rookery Bay South Slough, Wells, Great Bay, Mullica River, Chesapeake Bay, N. Carolina, Weeks Bay, Rookery Bay Sapelo Island Great Bay ­ NH, Sapelo Island

Wood Stork Snowy Plover Piping Plover Wilson's Plover Least Tern Bald Eagle

Southern Bald Eagle Osprey

Rookery Bay: 20 birds listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern by FL fish and game


Cutthroat Trout Coho Salmon Gulf Sturgeon Alabama Shovelnose Sturgon South Slough South Slough, Mt. Vernon Weeks Bay Weeks Bay


Salt Marsh Bird's Beak Wild Cotton Golden Leather Fern Inkberry Bay Cedar Curtiss' Milkweed Pineweed Giant Leather Fern Tijuana river Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Rookery Bay 23

Prickley Pear Cactus Spike Moss Sandplain Gerardia Swamp Pink Knieskern's Beaked-Rush Sensitive Joint-Vetch Seabeach Amaranth American Chaffseed Smooth Tick Trefoil Downy Bushclover Threadlaid Naiad Downy Milk Pea Rynchosia Red Turtlehead Bushy Rockrose Thread-Leaved Sundew Butterfly-weed Little Ladies Tresses Eastern Lilaeopsis Vetchling Narrow-Leaved Wild Rice Knotroot Foxtail

Rookery Bay Rookery Bay Waquoit Bay Mullica River Mullica River Mullica River Mullica River Mullica River Chesapeake Bay Chesapeake Bay Chesapeake Bay Chesapeake Bay Chesapeake Bay Chesapeake Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay Waquoit Bay

Rookery Bay: More than 100 of the Basin's 1500 plant species are listed as either endangered or threatened.


Loggerhead Turtles Alabama Red-Bellied Turtle Alligator Snapping Turtle Alligator Map Turtle Atlantic Ridley Kemp's Ridley Sea turtle Green Turtle Leatherback N. Carolina, Sapelo Island, Apalachicola Bay, Rookery Bay Weeks Bay Weeks Bay Weeks Bay Apalachicola Bay Rookery Bay Apalachicola Bay Apalachicola Bay


Gulf Salt Marsh Snake Eastern Indigo Snake Indigo Snake Black Pine Snake Florida Pine Snake Weeks Bay Weeks Bay, Apalachicola Bay Rookery Bay Weeks Bay Weeks Bay


Appendix C

A Guide to Community-Based Salt Marsh Protection

Identifying the Stakeholders The first step in initiating a community-based salt marsh protection project is identifying the stakeholders. Those who concretely benefit from the salt marsh should, once educated, desire to take actions to facilitate the marsh's future survival. Which individuals fish (either commercially or recreationally), own or work for seafood-related businesses (such as packing facilities and restaurants), participate in marsh-related activities (like bird watching or canoeing) or rely on high estuarine and coastal water quality either to draw tourists to the region or for personal recreational access?37 Mariculturists, scientists, youth groups,38 educators and environmentalists should also be included in marsh preservation efforts. Owners of property abutting threatened salt marshes must be included in any marsh preservation effort. Failure to include abutting and near-by land owners in all stages of marsh preservation planning will greatly increase the likelihood that property owners will organize a coalition opposing the salt marsh preservation effort. State, regional and local coastal zone and land-use planners also need


Though a decline in salt marsh cover or health could forseeably harm public health by diminishing water quality, this link is still somewhat speculative. Since many of the individuals who should be interested in marsh preservation have competing economic interests in protecting private property from the adverse effects of sea-level rise, it is probably wise at this point to highlight the irrefutable harms which will result from salt marsh destruction. 38 Youth groups benefit from marshes due to the recreational and educational opportunities available in marshes and the future dependence which individual members of the group will have on the marshes. Efforts at environmental protection should always attempt to form partnerships with youth groups due to their boundless energy, need for leadership and educational opportunities, and parental influence. 25

to be involved in designing marsh preservation plans, and may be able to provide technical, legal and financial assistance to the marsh preservation effort.

Educating the Stakeholders & Getting them Involved The stakeholders can be educated by presentations to community groups, professional associations, schools, religious groups and services clubs. Tours of the marsh can also be organized, either for educational or for recreational purposes. Bird watching and other low-impact activities, such as canoeing and kayaking, should be encouraged in estuarine areas. Stakeholders must gain an active involvement the salt marsh area so that preservation issues do not become "out of sight, out of mind." The marsh needs to become a visible, and integral, part of people's daily lives. Increases of recreational and educational opportunities within the marsh itself are important first steps, which should be rapidly followed by creating opportunities for those using the marsh to take actions to monitor, restore and/or take legal action to protect the marsh.

Technical Advice Since marsh monitoring and restoration efforts require scientific expertise, the local community will need to secure scientific assistance in designing and implementing marsh monitoring and restoration plans. Local universities, NERR sites and environmental organizations are good sources of scientific assistance and oversight. The services of a lawyer will be necessary if it becomes apparent that legal measures might be needed to protect the marsh. Those seeking to preserve a salt marsh may be able to associate with an existing land trust, or environmental nonprofit, in order


to obtain attorney assistance at no cost. If existing land trusts and environmental nonprofits are incapable of providing free legal services, a local attorney in private practice may be willing to provide pro-bono assistance to protect existing legal rights and to propose and negotiate the terms of conservation easements.

Identifying Available Funding Existing land trusts, such as the Trust for Public Lands, should be approached for funding, and/or funding advice. In addition, governmental agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state Environmental Protection Agencies, often provide funding for a salt marsh education, monitoring, and restoration initiatives. These agencies usually offer grants to community groups with viable projects to preserve and protect marsh habitats. Federal environmental agencies also maintain lists of other private and public organizations which fund habitat protection and restoration projects. The leading philanthropic organization concerned with environmental protection operative in the U.S. is the Pew Charitable Trust. The Pew Foundation offers funding to universities and established non-profits working to protect the marine environment. Members of the local community, including fisheries trade organizations and corporations whose activities lead to marsh degradation, should also be approached as possible sources of funding for community-based marsh preservation, restoration and community education initiatives.39


Funding for community-based marsh monitoring, education and restoration efforts is currently available from the following organizations: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Estuary Restoration Grants Program (, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Community Based Restoration Project (, Coastal America 27

Opportunities for Long-term Community Involvement An excellent example of community-based monitoring of a salt water marsh is provided by the students at Essex Elementary and Middle School.40 The students at Essex Elementary monitored the interstitial salinity of a salt marsh at differing zones and depths and identified and recorded the plants and animals spotted by students. Students from Essex Elementary reported their findings to the Massachusetts Audubon Society. Not satisfied with merely monitoring a salt marsh, the Essex students proceeded to identify the factors leading to the salt marsh's degradation and to design a marsh remediation plan. As remediation was conducted, the Essex students continued to monitor the effects of remediation. Though the salt marsh monitored by students from Essex Elementary was being impacted by water flow restrictions and exotic species, rather from the adverse affects of global climate change, it provides an excellent model of the actions which community members can take to protect their natural environment. The Essex project exemplifies the fact that community members, even the youngest ones with the least scientific background, are capable of conducting important marsh monitoring duties with proper training and supervision. The Essex project demonstrates that involvement of individuals living near NERRS, or whose property abuts current salt marsh habitat, can provide valuable services to help identify salt marsh migration rates. Community monitoring of (, Pew Charitable Trusts (, and the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation. For further information, see the America's Estuaries web site at: 40 The Essex Elementary and Middle School's Salt Marsh web page is located at:


salt marshes can also help researchers improve their understanding of the abundance, zonation and interactions of marsh species.

Coordination with Other Land Trusts, Research Projects and the NERRS Salt marsh data collected through community monitoring and experimentation must be standardized, as much as possible, and centrally compiled and interpreted. Though several different governmental and non-profit organizations are currently compiling salt marsh data, it would make sense to have community groups coordinate their monitoring efforts with scientists in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The NERRS already maintains a centralized database which compiles and analyzes data collected system-wide. It would be relatively simple for the NERRS to add data collected by community groups from privately held, or unprotected, marsh lands into its database. Participation in a national monitoring effort would provide individuals with a reason for continuing monitoring efforts, and involvement with marsh preservation, in the long term.


References International The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (16 U.S.C. 701 et seq.). Robert Watson, Marufu Zinyowera & Richard Moss (Eds.), The Regional Impacts of Climate Change: An assessment of vulnerability, A Special Report of IPCC Working Group II, Published for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Nov. 1997). Federal Government ­ Army Corps of Engineers Flood Control and Shoreline Protection, Army Corps of Engineers. Federal Government ­ Environmental Protection Agency Estuary Restoration Grants Program, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Global Warming ­ Coastal Zones, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Federal Government ­ Food and Drug Administration John Henkel, Drugs of the Deep, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (1998). Federal Government ­ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Community Based Restoration Project, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Fisheries of the United States, Fisheries Statistics & Economics, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (October, 23 2000). 1998 Year of the Ocean, Impacts of Global Climate Change with Emphasis on U.S. Coastal Areas. Salt Marsh Productivity, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (2000). Theresa Shearer, National Estuarine Research Reserve System, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (April 29, 2001).


State Government Coastal Salt Marshes, California Environmental Resources Evaluation System, California Resources Agency (1994). Dynamics of the Salt Marsh, S. Carolina, An Information/Education Series from the Marine Resources Division, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. Texas Coastwide Erosion Response Plan, Texas General Land Office (2 July 1999). Educational Institutions Arcata Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Saltwater Vegetation, Humboldt State University (2000). The Essex Elementary and Middle School's Salt Marsh web page Non-Profits America's Estuaries web site: Environmental Defense Fund website: Salt Marshes: A Critical Narragansett Bay Habitat, Save the Bay (2000). News Publications Fishery Threatens Horseshoe Crabs, Shorebirds, CNN (October 2, 1998) Horseshoe Crab Conservation, ABC News Associated Press (February 29, 2000) Mississippi Floods Revive Debate on What Government Should Do, The New York Times, A1, A16 (April 27, 2001). Zoos & Aquariums Crabs in the Crossfire, ZooGoer 28(3) 1999. Horseshoe Crab, Living Fossil, National Aquarium in Baltimore (1997)



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