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What are salt marshes? Salt marshes are coastal wetlands dominated by grasses and flooded by the tides. Their character is strongly influenced by tidal flooding and freshwater input. Tidal marshes range in salinity from salt marsh to brackish and fresh marshes farther inland. Within a salt marsh, elevation increases from bay or creek edge to upland. Low portions of the salt marsh, dominated by smooth cordgrass (Spartina alternifl ora), receive daily tidal flooding. Higher portions of marsh flood less often and support many plant species. Salt marshes develop in protected bays over decades to millenia, varying in form from narrow shoreline fringes to vast marsh flood less often and support many plant species. Salt marshes develop in protected bays over decades to millenia, varying in form from narrow shoreline fringes to vast expanses. Salt marshes are extremely productive ecosystems that perform many services valued by society. They naturally filter pollutants from coastal waters, provide fish and wildlife habitat, and protect uplands from storm erosion and fl ooding. During the past four hundred years, many salt marshes on the Gulf of Maine’s coast from Massachusetts to Nova Scotia were degraded or destroyed. Salt marshes were filled and drained, and tidal flooding was blocked by roads, railroads, and dikes. Loss of intact salt marshes impairs the health of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and the economic activities that depend on it. As awareness of salt marshes’ importance has increased, efforts to protect and restore salt marsh habitats have expanded. Yet much of the information needed for effective management does not exist. In particular, the effects of human impacts and natural disturbances on salt marshes are far-reaching but poorly understood. Ecological monitoring provides information on marsh extent and health that is essential for improved management, conservation, and habitat restoration. Therefore, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment has established a framework to expand and enhance salt marsh monitoring in the Gulf of Maine. The Council is seeking additional partners in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia to implement a monitoring network for the region’s salt marshes. storm erosion and flooding. During the past ecosystem and the economic activities that depend on it. As conservation, and habitat restoration. www.gulfofmaine.org

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Scarborough Marsh In the midst of a still developing landscape just south of Portland, Scarborough Marsh is Maine's largest and best known salt marsh. The 3,100 acre Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management Area, owned and managed by the State of Maine, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, includes approximately 2,700 acres of salt marsh, five tidal rivers, several smaller streams, some coastal freshwater marsh, tidal flats, and less than 200 acres of upland habitat. The Scarborough Marsh accounts for 15% of the state's total tidal marsh area, making it the largest contiguous marsh system in the State of Maine. Salt marshes are one of the rarest habitat types in Maine, consisting of less than 19,000 acres (or less than 0.01% ) of Maine's total 21,146,600 acres. Salt marshes account for only 0.4% of Maine's entire wetland acreage. The Scarborough Marsh is valued and enjoyed by tens of thousands of people each year. The marsh supports a variety of human activities, including canoeing and kayaking, bird watching, clam digging and fishing for fun or for profit, and hunting. The open skies, grassy expanses, coastal vistas, and changing waterlevels appeal to many, and the play of light and shadow challenges painters and photographers alike. The Scarborough Marsh offers naturalists and schoolchildren an ideal "outdoor classroom." People have recognized the marsh's value for many thousands of years. Early inhabitants harvested birds, fish, and shellfish; later settlers also depended on the marsh for livestock fodder. Today the marsh is still a valuable component of the region's commercial fishing and tourism industries. ________________________________________________________________________101 links http://www.scarboroughcrossroads.org/marsh/marsh.shtml http://www.maineaudubon.org/explore/centers/marsh2.shtml www.gulfofmaine.org

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