Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Expanding Salt Marshes

Eight or nine years ago I wrote a newspaper story about a young researcher who was studying why salt marsh grasses seemed to be disappearing at Marshlands Conservancy, a nature preserve owned by Westchester County, in Rye. I remember it because when I called the fellow who was the county parks commissioner at the time to get his thoughts on it, he was flummoxed because he hadn’t heard of the project: “It can’t be happening because I know everything that’s going on in the parks and I don’t know about this!”

About six weeks ago I went back to Marshlands for the first time in years, to wander around with some terrapin researchers. I mentioned the marsh dieback and the study to Alison Beall, the longtime curator at Marshlands, and she told me that amazingly enough the marsh grass – Spartina alterniflora, in particular – has rebounded and is colonizing new areas. Marshes are still fading elsewhere (in Jamaica Bay, for example), but in Rye they’re growing again, she said. Today’s Journal News has a story about it.


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