RI to lead nationwide salt marsh recovery project

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (D-E-M) has been awarded a $500,000 federal grant to lead a nationwide salt marsh study.

Due to the recent effects of climate change, sea levels are rising faster than many salt marshes can adapt. The DEM said this project is meant to find ways to recover marshes across the country.

Rhode Island’s salt marshes are not only an iconic part of the landscape, but serve of important benefits to people, animals and the environment.

“If we don’t do anything, chances are marshes are not going to fair well,” DEM official Bob Stankelis said. “Without salt marshes, you’re going to end up with a mud flat and it’s not going to be as diverse or resilient to future climate change.”

Prudence Island’s salt marshes, which act as barriers to the island, are the platform of this project.

The DEM said researchers will add dredged material to the marshes on the island, monitor how resilient the marshes are with the material and compare the results with eight other locations across the country.

“The distribution of the project is going to give us an incredible power to be able to analyze the data and provide the results that the coastal planners and land managers need to make better decisions,” Stankelis said.

The DEM is currently planning the project with hopes to add the sediment in the next few weeks. The project is projected to last two years.