Eight Towns and The Great Marsh
Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is a committee of municipally appointed citizens dedicated to the restoration and protection of coastal waters and associated watersheds on the upper North Shore of Massachusetts Bay. We work to foster stewardship of coastal resources by heightening public awareness of, and restoring coastal habitat, mitigating coastal water quality impacts, providing technical assistance, and developing and supporting local research and educational projects.
The Committee works to foster stewardship of coastal resources by heightening public awareness of, and mitigating estuarine impacts from sea level rise and climate change, providing technical assistance, and developing and supporting local research and educational projects. The committee members represent nine North Shore communities: Salisbury, Amesbury, Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Essex, Gloucester and Rockport.
The Committee is the upper North Shore regional representative of the MassBays Partnership (MBP) and represents the environmental interests of the Great Marsh. The Committee is partially funded under the Clean Water Act through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is administered by both MBP and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. MVPC has been providing staff and technical support to the Committee since 1993.
Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is one of five local governance committees within the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary region. Committee members meet monthly and are appointed by the chief elected officials in their communities. They work closely with local officials, citizens, nonprofit groups, and state and federal agencies to promote coastal protection. However, the Committee isn’t limited to the nine communities it represents. Issues within the coastal watersheds of the Merrimack River, Parker River, Ipswich River and the North Coastal Basin are other impacted geographic areas.
Eight Town and the Great Marsh projects include:
- Designation of the Great Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)
- Development of a web-based kayackers guide
- Low impact development (LID) projects
- Circulation modeling in the Merrimack Estuary/Plum Island Sound
- Erosion modeling of Plum Island shoreline
- Smart Growth (including OSRD, Affordable Housing, Green Neighborhoods, Open Space)
- Anadromous fish passage, boater no-discharge area designation and sea level rise
- Scenic coastal byway designation
- Management of invasive species, including green crab, Phragmites, and perennial pepperweed
We are a committee of municipally appointed citizens dedicated to the restoration and protection of coastal waters and associated watersheds on the upper North Shore of Massachusetts Bay.
9 North Shore Concerned Coastal Communities
In the summer of 2019, MVPC, through the Great Marsh Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation, recently received funding the second round of the Hurricane Sandy Resiliency Fund. We will be leading the management and removal of the highly invasive Phragmites australis plant on the Great Marsh marsh platform. In addition, under this funding we will be partnering over the next several years with Massachusetts Audubon on the removal of invasive perennial pepperweed, partnering with Boston University on several eelgrass restoration sites, and assisting University of New Hampshire on marsh drainage projects
The Great Marsh Partnership
The Committee works closely with the Great Marsh Partnership and is a core member of that team which is comprised of local university scientists, nonprofit organizations, federal and state entities and the local communities of the Great Marsh. Much of the work of the Partnership is focused on restoration and resiliency projects in the Great Marsh. Funding for this work partially comes from Hurricane Sandy Resiliency grants and Municipal Vulnerability grants. Projects include, eelgrass restoration, dune restoration hydrodynamic modeling of the estuary, invasive species management, living shoreline projects and other resiliency efforts
The Great Marsh Coalition
Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is a member of the Great Marsh Coalition which, along with other not-for-profit environmental organizations, works to promote the Great Marsh. This unique complex of natural coastal marsh systems extends from Cape Ann northward into southern New Hampshire. The Great Marsh adds ecological, economic, recreational, and cultural value to the region, both on the coast and inland, where land is connected by river and stream networks. The Coalition meets regularly to discuss education and outreach project development, and hosts an annual event, or series of field trips to raise awareness of the Great Marsh.
North Shore Greenscapes Coalition
As a founding member of the North Shore Greenscapes Coalition, Eight Towns and the Great Marsh works with area communities to reduce stormwater runoff and protect water resources through education and outreach on smart smart landscaping, stormwater, and water use practices. As a result of this program, communities are better prepared to meet MS4 stormwater permits and water management permit requirements.
The Coalition is an advocate for information, and provides member communities a valuable knowledge source and education outreach products, from reference guides to targeted outreach programs. The Coalition also provides participating communities activities and resources for their individual outreach campaigns, from print and support materials (flyers, calendars, newsletters) to school programs to demonstration site tours and discounts for Greenscapes goods and services. Get involved at www.greenscapes.org.
Sometimes the Great Marsh region has uninvited guests, and the Eight Towns and the Great Marsh committee helps monitor and control serious invaders, such as Phragmites australis (Common Reed), Lapidim Latifolium (Perennial Pepperweed), and a host of Marine Invasive species, including the invasive green crab. Through a combination of volunteer efforts, grant, and directed funding, the committee works to curb the spread of Phragmites in the marsh.
Partnering with the Massachusetts Audubon Society and Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, the Committee helps map and control and contain perennial pepperweed, a recent coastal environment invader.
The invasive green crab threatens local shellfish and has detrimental impacts on the marsh including eelgrass restoration sites. Partnering with Green Crab R&D, the Committee is working to find a culinary solution to rid the marsh of this invasive species
Marine Invasive species primarily come from ballast water associated with boating and shipping. Eight Towns and the Great Marsh monitors the influx and location of the species throughout our coastal region. Many invaders, which foul fishing gear, plug intakes, and coat sensitive underwater structures, have been here for years, while others are fairly new.
We work to foster stewardship of coastal resources by heightening public awareness of mitigating estuarine impacts from sea level rise and climate change.