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Parker-Ipswich-Essex Rivers Restoration Partnership

About the Project

The Eelgrass Restoration and Green Crab Monitoring Program is a component of the overall Great Marsh Resiliency Project and is funded through a federal Hurricane Sandy restoration grant. The Great Marsh, which includes the water bodies of Plum Island Sound and Essex Bay, once contained acres of lush, thriving eelgrass beds that were wiped out by the mid-1900s. With funding from the Massachusetts Bays Program (MBP) in 2012 and 2013, our research team developed a model for Plum Island Sound that identified areas with good potential for the re-establishment and growth of eelgrass and we began test-transplanting eelgrass at the most suitable sites. We also identified a small new self-established bed in Essex Bay, the first in the Great Marsh in over 75 years. With funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are expanding upon our prior work with ongoing assistance from our local, state, and federal collaborators. In this next phase of our project, we are engaging youth through the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and community volunteers in the “direct restoration” of 3 acres of eelgrass to the Great Marsh by transplanting and seeding at selected sites in Plum Island Sound and Essex Bay. Our eelgrass restoration efforts will help to attenuate wave energy and stabilize channels and shorelines. To enhance eelgrass establishment success we also initiated a green crab depletion program across 1280 acres at eelgrass restoration sites and across potential marsh restoration habitat. Our proposed work is a critical next step in bringing a thriving eelgrass population back to the waters of the Great Marsh, which is essential to building an overall healthy, resilient “living shoreline” that will act as a natural barrier to coastal storms, sea-level rise, flooding, erosion and the associated threats of climate change.


Essex Bay and Plum Island Sound



Lead Organization: Eight Towns and the Great Marsh

Project Contact: Alyssa Novak, Research Assistant Professor
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