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Local Adaptation for Marsh Migration

A Marsh Migration Team is helping coastal communities in Maine explore how local policies or plans might address the expected inland movement of coastal marshes as sea levels rise. This collaborative effort is working with six Maine communities—Scarborough, Bath, Topsham, Phippsburg, Georgetown, and Bowdoinham—to understand the economic and resource values of coastal marshes, assess likely marsh migration, and develop adaptation strategies (recognizing the potential costs of not planning for predicted sea-level rise).

Technical description

Coastal marshes serve a variety of important functions including flood control and spawning/rearing areas for marine life. These marsh systems are also critical breeding, wintering, and migratory stop-over sites for many avian Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in state wildlife action plans throughout the North Atlantic LCC region. Providing and maintaining potential for these tidal marsh habitats to migrate is a key approach for long-term adaptation to the more frequent and severe coastal flooding and gradual sea level rise anticipated under changing climatic conditions.

Work completed under this NALCC Demonstration Project included identification of the most resilient marshes in Maine (based on habitat size, diversity of marsh communities present, and migration potential, etc.); utilization of LiDAR to identify lands capable of supporting intertidal communities based on several sea level rise scenarios; and development of outreach materials for local planners and conservation partners.  However, the focus of the project was to facilitate local actions necessary to accommodate future marsh migration needs though local land use policy and local conservation investment.

Local partners were engaged initially through regional meetings where climate change associated stressors to intertidal wetlands were presented together with simulations of marsh migration needs based on ground-truthed, LiDAR-based simulations.  A subsequent request for proposals enabled potential partners to self-select for on-site technical assistance in crafting locally tailored adaptation approaches.

Project Contact(s):

, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

LCC Staff Contact(s):

Steve Fuller, Science Delivery Coordinator

Local Adaptation for Marsh Migration
Resource Type: Ecosystems
Conservation Targets: Coastal and Marine
Conservation Framework: Biological Planning, Conservation Delivery
Threats/Stressors: Climate Change
Conservation Action: Habitat and natural process restoration, Site/area management