Eileen Sheehan looks out into the Westport River. Photo by Juan Rodriguez

Salt marshes are coastal wetlands that span up and down the East Coast. They help protect coastal properties from strong waves during storms, absorb carbon from the atmosphere, and serve as nurseries for fish and critical habitat for birds, such as ospreys. However, residents and fishermen started noticing these marsh islands, especially in the west branch of the river, rapidly disappearing.

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In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, observers are predicting that premiums for a cash-strapped federal flood insurance program are likely to rise. Along the Atlantic coast, meanwhile, communities from Rhode Island to Maine are already mounting a related challenge to the program: the accuracy of federal flood maps maps that designate who must pay those premiums in the first place.

 

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