Great Meadows Marsh Restoration

State TrusteeConnecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Restoration Types:

Habitat Enhancement


Affected DOI Resources:

Recreational Use Loss; Migratory Birds




Monitoring / Completed

Project Description

Great Meadows Marsh is one of Connecticut's most extensive remaining tidal salt marshes. Like many other marshes in the state, Great Meadows Marsh has been drastically altered since the 1700s. Originally extending over 1,400 acres, the marsh has decreased in size by over 50%. Portions of the marsh were drained by mosquito ditching and filled in with dredge spoils, leading to the spread of invasive species such as Phragmites (common reeds). Other sections have experienced severe erosion due to sea level rise. After years of planning, a $4.65-million project to restore a 34-acre section of Great Meadows Marsh began in 2021. During the fall, a prescribed burn was performed to clear standing vegetation, largely comprised of Phragmites. Construction crews then removed the berms and excavated the top soil to remove roots and seeds to prevent the invasive grass from resprouting. The site was regraded and new channels were dug to allow water to flow freely. A 12-foot-wide channel was also constructed to restore the tidal regime of this section of the marsh. Hummocks, or mounds, were also constructed near known salt marsh sparrow breeding locations to offer the birds refuge from sea level rise. During the winter and spring of 2022, volunteers, local high school students, contractors, and project partners planted more than 165,000 native grasses and other non-woody plants, such as smooth cordgrass, salt hay, and seaside goldenrod. Invasive species management is ongoing until 2025 to control Phragmites, and partners have been planting additional marsh grasses as needed. In 2023, a 6-acre portion of marsh just inland from the original 34 acres was restored. Located within the Great Meadows Marsh Unit (GMMU) of the Stewart McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, the project was a collaborative effort between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Audubon Connecticut, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Town of Stratford. Approximately $1 million for the restoration came from Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR) settlements with General Electric Company (GE), Lordship Point Gun Club, and Raymark Industries, who were responsible for contamination at three nearby sites. Other sources of funding for the project included several grants and donations.

Restoration Land Ownership

Fish and Wildlife Service

Parties Implementing Restoration

Audubon Connecticut; Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection; NOAA

DOI Project Representatives

Fish and Wildlife Service

Native marsh vegetation was planted by a team of volunteers, local high school students, contractors, and project partners., Credit: CT Audubon

Water impounded in the Phragmites-dominated marsh was spawning habitat for mosquitos, as seen in this pre-restoration photo from September 2021., Credit: NOAA

Page 1 of 2

Map View

Additional Resources

Restoration of the Great Meadows Marsh (ArcGIS StoryMap)

High school students help restore Connecticut’s Great Meadows Marsh

Making Great Meadows marshy again

Calculated risk pays off at Connecticut salt marsh: Thoughtful planning, execution and follow-up benefit wildlife and people at Great Meadows


New England Ecological Services Field Office

Concord, NH | (603) 223-2541 |

If you have any problems, suggestions, or comments about our website please notify

Content Protected Copyright © 2024 NRDAR. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written consent of NRDAR is Strictly Prohibited.