Supports efforts to act on climate change, enhance wildlife habitat
PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), along with Save The Bay and other partners, announced today that work is now underway on an improvement project at the Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area in Tiverton. The project, slated for completion in spring 2017, supports efforts to restore this degraded coastal habitat and strengthen the state's resilience against climate change.
"We're thrilled to begin this project which will greatly improve this important coastal area to benefit our families and wildlife as well as strengthen our resilience," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Coastal fish, herons, egrets, waterfowl and so much more wildlife call this special place home. It's important we preserve it. Sapowet is also a place where significant shoreline erosion is threatening existing infrastructure and limiting the natural areas available to the public to enjoy. We look forward to celebrating a new and improved Sapowet next spring and inviting people back to rediscover this beautiful place."
The coastal portion of Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area has experienced more than 90 feet of shoreline erosion in the last 75 years. As part of the improvement project, the access from Seapowet Avenue will be redesigned; four acres of beach, dune and coastal shrub land will be revegetated; and nine acres of coastal grassland will be restored. Other improvements include improved parking and signage and enhanced scenic vistas and beachfront.
"Save The Bay is excited to partner with DEM on the Sapowet coastal adaptation project which will restore the condition of the beach and salt marsh while creating a coastal buffer that will provide an area for these coastal habitats to migrate inland as sea level rises," said Wenley Ferguson, Save The Bay director of habitat restoration. "The public's access to the beach will be enhanced since the parking will be moved off the beach and closer to the road, creating more area for people to recreate. Save The Bay looks forward to working with DEM and the Tiverton Conservation Commission on planting native plants along the beach to re-establish a small dune."
The Sapowet project builds on significant progress made over the last decade to restore vital habitats and will support priority wildlife species, such as the Least Tern and Saltmarsh Sparrow. Other projects completed include Ten Mile River fish runs at Hunt's Mill, Turner Reservoir and Omega Pond dams in East Providence; the Lonsdale Drive-In riparian and wetlands in Lincoln; and the Town Pond saltmarsh in Portsmouth. Marsh restoration projects at Narrow River in Narragansett and Ninigret Pond in Charletown are also underway this fall.
Partners in the Sapowet effort include Save The Bay, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Tiverton Conservation Commission. Funding for the $40,719 project includes $30,759 from CRMC's Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration Trust Fund and $9,960 from the USFWS's Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration program.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.