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Accession Number 5004387

Title Monitoring salt marsh development processes in the restoring Hatches Harbor salt

marsh: Cape Cod National Seashore

Project Description Natural tidal regimes within many coastal wetlands of the urbanized northeast have been

restricted by bridges, causeways, impoundments and dikes, thereby degrading habitat value.

Studies throughout New England have documented hydrologic, vegetation, faunal and

biogeochemical responses of tidal marshes to restriction of tidal flow, and in turn, many

successful efforts are underway to re-introduce tidal flow and restore the structure and function of

degraded marshes. At Cape Cod National Seashore (MA), research and resource management

programs have been underway for over a decade to restore degraded salt marshes. The purpose of

this study is to evaluate salt marsh development processes within the restoring Hatches Harbor

salt marsh. Vegetation responses to tidal restoration will also be evaluated. This study will include

monitoring of marsh accretion rates using Sediment-elevation tables and relate these rates of

marsh accretion to rates of sea level rise. If the restoring marsh is keeping pace with sea level

rise, then tidal exchange through new and enlarged culvert openings can be increased. If not, then

the marsh may be drowning in response to sea level rise and the new dike should be regulated in

a more cautious manner. In addition to understanding current responses of the marsh to sea level

rise and tidal restoration, it is equally important to document the recent history of salt marsh

development processes at Hatches Harbor from natural unrestricted, to restricted (beginning in the

1930s), to restoring. Radiometric dating is proposed to document past trends in marsh accretion


Keywords cape cod national seashore, salt marsh development process, salt marsh restoration, sea level


Principal John King, Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island:;


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