...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
CRMC announces statewide coastal wetland preservation strategy
April 30, 2018, WAKEFIELD – The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) now has a series of “to-do list” actions for managing threatened coastal wetland habitats across the state.
The Rhode Island Coastal Wetland Restoration Strategy, developed by the CRMC and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, provides a strategy for conservation and management efforts, and lays out a series of necessary actions for coastal wetland resource managers in Rhode Island.
Coastal wetlands are important habitats that have been under threat from human activity since colonial times. They provide many important benefits to wildlife and humans, such as buffering shorelines from waves and slowing down coastal erosion, absorbing pollutants that would otherwise hurt coastal waters, and providing feeding, spawning and nesting areas for fish and wildlife. For these reasons, coastal wetlands are protected at the state and federal level, and there are many programs dedicated to restoring the damage done by development.
Historically, efforts to restore coastal wetlands have focused on development-related impacts such as filling and ditching. More recently, climate change and accelerating sea level rise have joined the list of impacts that coastal managers are attempting to address. As the list of potential stressors has grown, so have the field of wetland restoration science and the set of management tools available to restoration practitioners. The Rhode Island Coastal Wetland Restoration Strategy provides a summary of these stressors, current wetland restoration techniques, and lays out a framework for their use in Rhode Island. Perhaps most importantly, it includes a list of prioritized action items for coastal managers. Through use of this strategy, the CRMC and RINHS hope to minimize wetland loss through restoration, conservation, and other interventions.
“We hope that improved management will prevent the loss of critical functions and ecosystem services across these vital and valuable systems,” said Caitlin Chaffee, policy analyst at CRMC. “The strategy will also inform the continued development of a permanent statewide coastal wetland restoration program, which will act as a clearinghouse for restoration research, methods, assessment information, and for tracking restoration efforts in Rhode Island.”
The document was written with extensive input from individuals from federal, state and nonprofit organizations as well as academia with a wealth of expertise in the fields of coastal, wetland and ecosystem restoration science and management. Development of the document was supported by the NOAA Office for Coastal Management and an EPA Wetland Program Development Grant managed by the RI Department of Environmental Management and CRMC.
“Salt marshes and other coastal wetlands are important to the economy, quality of life, and coastal environment of Rhode Island, but they are now being lost to sea-level rise and other human disturbances at an alarming rate,” said Tom Kutcher, wetlands scientist for the Rhode Island Natural History Survey. “This strategy lays out goals and actions that will be necessary to minimize ongoing degradation and loss of these iconic coastal landscapes.”
To read the strategy, go to http://www.crmc.ri.gov/habitatrestoration/RICWRestorationStrategy.pdf.For more information on the CRMC’s coastal wetland restoration efforts, go to http://www.crmc.ri.gov/habitatrestoration.html.