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photo credit: USFWS

Our salt marshes are under threat.

Here's what we plan to do about it.

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About Marshes for Tomorrow

Marshes for Tomorrow is a landscape-scale restoration plan for Maryland’s saltmarshes. Marshes for Tomorrow is being spearheaded by Audubon Mid-Atlantic, and executed through the Delmarva Restoration and Conservation Network (DRCN). Specific partners inclue:

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Marshes for Tomorrow will create a restoration plan for 25,000 acres of Maryland's saltmarshes. Ultimately, marsh restoration at this scale has the power to save an entire ecosystem—as well as the imperiled Saltmarsh Sparrow— and along with it, economic benefits to fisheries, tourism, and local communities.

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Our Objective

photo credit: USFWS

Email marshes4tomorrow@gmail.com

or call (410) 558-2473, ext 108

to speak to a member of the Marshes for Tomorrow team.

Get Involved

Do you live, work, or recreate on the Eastern Shore of Maryland? Make your voice heard!
Take the Survey
Why?
Maryland’s coastal marshes are undergoing dramatic rates of loss due to erosion and sea level rise. Communities on the Eastern Shore are on the frontlines of these changes.

We recognize community input is exceptionally important for the success of this project in identifying the best locations to concentrate our conservation and restoration efforts for birds and people. So we want to hear from you! 
Fill out the survey for your chance to win a gift basket of Eastern Shore goodies!
gift certificates!
locally made soap!
nature themed swag... and more!
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(takes about 5-10 minutes)
Attend a Community Meeting
Our second round of community meetings are coming up! Thank you to all who have attended and shared their insights so far!
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Refreshments will be provided! Registration will close 24hrs in advance, but walk-ins are welcome.

Miss our first round of meetings? Take a look at the meeting presentation to learn more about the project!
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Salt Marsh 101

Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that occur world wide. They are regularly flooded by salt water during the tidal cycle and are commonly found in estuarine environments (NOAA, 2023)

Salt marshes are an iconic ecosystem on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and can be seen at popular travel destinations such as Assateague National Seashore/State Park and Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge:
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Assateague Marsh, photo credit: Claire Almand

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Blackwater NWR, photo credit: Ray Paterra

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Video by Partnership for
the Delaware Estuary
Due to their unqiue ecology, salt marshes are home to a diverse array of species which have adapted to the unique tidal conditions. One such species, is the saltmarsh sparrow.

The Saltmarsh Sparrow

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photo credit: Frank Lehman

Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammospiza caudacuta) is a bird species that is specially adapted to the harsh conditions of the salt marsh environment. This species only breeds in the North East United States. Maryland’s breeding Saltmarsh Sparrow population is estimated to be 25.2% of

the regional population as of 2011/2012 (Wiest et al. 2019), the largest of any state (Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, 2020).

 

The Saltmarsh Sparrow has had a 87% population decline since 1998 due to low breeding productivity. Continue scrolling to learn more about the threats to salt marshes and how this affects the Saltmarsh Sparrow (Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, 2020).

Threats to Our Salt Marshes

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Our salt marshes
are drowning...
75% of high marsh in Maryland will likely be lost to sea level rise by 2100. Learn more  about why below.

photo credit: Eric Liner, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

1. Rising Seas

Sea levels across the globe are rising due to the impacts of climate change. Scientists predict that sea level will rise about 3 feet by 2100. Sea level is rising due to 2 main factors:

Thermal Expansion

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photo credit: plumbing.com

Due to its physical properties, as water increases in temperature it also increases in volume. This accounts for about half of measured global sea level rise.

Polar Melting

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photo credit: NASA

As the atmosphere warms, glaciers at earth’s poles melt, depositing ice that was previously trapped on land and increasing the amount of water in the ocean.

2. Sinking Land

Due to their geological history, the coasts of Maryland have been slowly sinking since the last ice age. If you look at the diagram on the left, the Eastern Shore of Maryland is an example of the "forebulge" formed during glacial times, which is now collapsing.

Even though this is natural geological process, it does mean that relative sea level rise in Maryland is 2x as fast compared to the global average. (University of Maryland, 2018)

3. Historic Ditches
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You may notice that salt marshes in your area, have manmade ditches. Ditching changes the way water flows on the marsh and has caused severe damage in marshes over time.

 

It is estimated that 90% of tidal marshes from Virginia to Maine were ditched for salt hay farming in the 1600s, and later for mosquito control in the 1900s (Burdick et al., 2019).

photo credit: Roman Jesian, Maryland Coastal Bays Program

Restoration Opportunity

There are a variety of restoration techniques that have been used to help restore salt marshes in different locations along the Atlantic Coast. Which technique is most appropriate for a given situation, depends on a variety of factors including: the elevation of the site, the budget of the project, and access to external sediment.

Runnels

Use When: Marsh is degrading due towater trapped on the marsh surface.

 

What: Shallow channels dug in themarsh to restore tidal flow and draintrapped water. Can be used to remediate the impacts of historic ditching.

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photo credit: Dave Curson, Audubon

Use When: Raising the marsh surface is needed for its longterm survival.

 

What: Placement of dredged sediment onto the marsh surface to raise its elevation above the reach of daily tides.

Sediment Placement

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photo credit: Middleton Evans

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