Narrow River Preservation Association
Saturday, August 19, 2017
NRPA: Working since 1970 to preserve, protect, and restore Narrow River and its watershed.

Salt Marsh Resiliency


Water Quality in the Lower Narrow River

For more than two decades NRPA has had a River Watch program that monitors the water quality at fourteen locations spanning the entire length of the Narrow River. Since the start of the program, elevated bacteria levels have been regularly observed at Mumford Brook and Mettatuxet Brook. Since 2001, elevated bacteria levels have also been observed at Middlebridge.

In May of 2014, NRPA launch a two-year water quality program funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the The Nature Conservancy to conduct supplemental water quality monitoring in the waters and streams of the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge that reside within the towns of South Kingstown and Narragansett, Rhode Island to support saltmarsh and estuarine resiliency and restoration actions.

View the interim report to The Nature Conservancy and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pilot Program at Middlebridge Tests Methods for Enhancing Marsh Resiliency 

On March 23, the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service began a marsh restoration pilot study on the marsh just south of Middlebridge. The pilot is comparing two methods of “thin-layer deposition” in which a layer of sand is used to raise the elevation of the marsh surface and thus enable the marsh to keep up with sea level rise.

The pilot will compare the results of two 50 by 100 foot plots where roughly four inches (100 cubic yards) of sand were added.

With the hydraulic method used for the first plot, water, air and sand were combined in a tank and pumped onto the marsh. 

In the second plot, the layer of sand was spread using a Bobcat loader. 

USFWS scientists will be measuring sediment levels, vegetation response and peat compression (soil bulk density) throughout the year to help inform suggested methods for larger scale thin-layer deposition of material dredged from Narrow River later this year.

The work is part of a multi-prong USFWS effort to restore estuarine conditions in the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge in the Narrow River to enhance resiliency against sea level rise, climate change and future storm events.

See more pictures of the pilot study at Middlebridge.

On Pettaquamscutt Series Wraps up with Talk on Marsh Adaptation

For the third and final presentation of the 2015 On Pettaquamscutt winter speaker series, Wenley Ferguson of Save the Bay and Nick Ernst of USFWS explained the various strategies for marsh adaptation being used in Narrow River and throughout the Narragansett Bay Estuary.

Click the title slide below to see Wenley's presentation.


Click the title slide below to see Nick's presentation.

Some of the tools in the Narrow River strategy include:

  • Dredging in selected locations to improve channel flow and promote eel grass growth
  • Marsh edge protection using coir logs and bagged oyster shells (a method also being evaluated near Middlebridge)
  • Digging runnels and repairing existing ones to improve surface drainage.
Visit the Resource Management page of USFWS's John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge website for more information on the agency's plans to use thin-layer spraying of dredge sediment and other techniques to enhance the resiliency of salt marshes in e lower Narrow River.



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NRPA is a member of the R.I. Rivers Council and has served as the Designated Watershed Council for Narrow River since 2002.


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