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Massachusetts Residents Worry Time Is Running Out For Salt Marsh Islands

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

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

Eileen Sheehan lives only about a couple hundred feet away from the Westport River. Through the windows in her living room, you can the sun’s reflection twinkling off the water.

However, Sheehan said these days, it’s depressing to look out into the river because of what’s been happening to the salt marsh islands.

About a quarter mile from the river’s edge, there are patches of marsh surrounded by sand and mud; but Sheehan, who grew up not too far from the house she lives in now, remembers the salt marshes being a lot fuller.

“(The islands are) going so fast, that we’re going to talk about marsh as an historical abstraction very soon,” Sheehan said.

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.

Here in the Westport River, you can see ospreys nesting on the marshes on top of man-made perches.

However, residents and fishermen, like Jack Reynolds, started noticing these marsh islands, especially in the west branch of the river, rapidly disappearing.

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