Hurricane Sandy was devastating, but it also presented The Wetlands Institute with amazing opportunities to rebuild and improve. Our new dock was reopened in September and it is truly built better than before. The next phase of improvements – a new 720 foot long elevated marsh walkway with new research and education stations is under construction.
The original walkway, built in 1987, was a linear structure that offered access to a small area of the marsh for research and education programs. Hurricane Sandy washed away a section of the walkway, leaving nearly half the structure unusable. But nature’s timing was appropriate and further fed the momentum of Executive Director Dr. Lenore Tedesco’s Plan for the Future.
And what began as an ambitious vision is now quickly taking shape. Demolition and removal of the old walkway was done with the utmost concern for minimal disturbance of the wetlands and so is construction of the new structure which is quickly progressing. “It is imperative that we finish the rebuilding effort before the Osprey return” stated Dr. Tedesco.
The new walkway will be elevated above the marsh and access the east side of the marsh from our Salt Marsh Trail. It will feature a grated surface to allow light to reach the marsh surface and a healthy marsh to prosper. It is in a much better location and will provide excellent views of the osprey platform, the salt pannes and flats with all of the wading and shorebirds, and a complex of tidal creeks. There will be two areas with stairs to allow access to the marsh for research and education.
The walkway will also provide access to a high-precision marsh elevation research station. The station will allow Institute staff to document how the marsh is responding to changing water levels as storms and sea level rise continue to stress the ecosystem. “Not only will the new walkway offer unparalleled access to the salt marsh for our visitors to enjoy but it will greatly enhance our research and education capabilities” commented Dr. Tedesco. The Wetlands Institute received a FEMA grant to cover less than a third of the rebuilding cost. The next phase of our Capacity Building Initiative will seek donations with naming rights to offset the balance of the cost. If you would like to find out more about these naming opportunities, please contact Dr. Lenore Tedesco.