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The goals of the restoration project at Little River were two-fold: 1) restore ecological function of the marsh by reestablishing regular tidal flooding; and 2) reduce the frequency and severity of local flooding to surrounding landowners. Our report documents substantial progress toward the first goal using regional monitoring protocols to assess four functional areas: hydrology, soils, vegetation and nekton. Installation of two large box culverts (each 1.8 by 3.6 m in cross-section) greatly enhanced tidal flow and freshwater drainage. The tide range increased from 0.5 to 1.4 m during spring tides and now even neap high tides flood most of the marsh surface.
The marsh has responded to the increased tidal exchange. In the year following installation of the culverts, soil salinity increased and became similar to levels found at Awcomin Marsh, which was used as a reference site. The marsh vegetation has shown steady changes, including increased native halophytes and decline of invasive plants, so that after five years the cover of halophytes, brackish plants, and invasives are similar to those found at Awcomin Marsh. Little River Marsh shows a clear trajectory towards establishment of a functioning salt marsh system. However, changes are likely to continue as the full range of ecological functions and values become realized at this site.
natural Resources and the Environment
Burdick, D. M., R. Vincent and C. R. Peter. 2010. Evaluation of Post-Restoration Conditions at Little River Marsh in North Hampton, New Hampshire. Final Report to: the New Hampshire Coastal Program, Portsmouth, NH.