Ninigret Pond Restoration Scheme on Track

Since receiving a one-year extension on a project to beneficially re-use dredged material for marsh elevation and restoration in Ninigret Pond, the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and its project partners have refined the project design and soon will be going out to bid for construction.

Because the breachway and delta are very dynamic areas, the CRMC also utilized the extension timeframe to conduct an updated bathymetric survey of the project dredging area.

This will be the third salt marsh elevation enhancement project in Rhode Island, and the second the CRMC has overseen: Narrow River was begun last season as a pilot for other projects and will continue this fall, and restoration at Sachuest Point in Middletown was started this winter by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Funding for these projects, including Ninigret, comes from Superstorm Sandy relief funds under the U.S. Department of the Interior. They’re part of a regional effort to restore coastal areas affected by Sandy.

The grant monies for the Ninigret restoration project come directly from National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Program. The State and the Towns of Charlestown and Westerly are contributing matching funds to the project.

Dredging will take place in the Charlestown breachway and the tidal delta at the entrance to the pond. The material will be beneficially reused on the beach and salt marsh. Construction is scheduled to begin mid-November and end in April 2017.

The total project area is approximately 25 acres.

The goal of the elevation enhancement in Ninigret is to increase the elevation of the marsh, where vegetation has died from increased flooding due to rising sea levels.

Dredged sand will be added to the marsh surface, and will range in thickness up to 12 inches deep. Much of the marsh vegetation is expected to regrow naturally, but the CRMC is working with Save The Bay on a replanting strategy to enhance this process.

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