The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) recently celebrated the impending start of work on the Ninigret Pond Salt Marsh Restoration and Enhancement project in Charlestown.
Starting the first week of December, crews will be dredging within the Charlestown Breachway, and will then reuse that material on the adjacent Ninigret salt marsh to increase its elevation to make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
The goals of the project are to preserve the functions of the existing salt marsh making it more resilient to future sea level rise, to slow the entry of sediment into the pond and to improve navigation by creating a deeper breachway channel.
The CRMC has contracted with JF Brennan Company Inc., an environmental services and marine construction firm that specializes in waterway remediation and habitat restoration to dredge two sedimentation basins within the breachway channel.
Most of the dredged material will be discharged from pipes onto the marsh to the west of the channel. The discharged material will then be spread and graded to elevations that are appropriate for salt marsh plants.
Some of the material dredged from the basins will be discharged along the shore, in the intertidal area to the east of the breachway. This will help to re-nourish the beach along the shoreline.
The JF Brennan crew is currently mobilizing the dredges, barge, and other equipment near the RIDEM state boat ramp and campground to the east of the breachway.
Dredging, scheduled to begin later today, will occur six days a week, 24 hours per day until the project is complete. Dredging is anticipated to be completed by the end of January.
Work on the salt marsh will begin shortly after dredging begins, and will continue through January. The salt marsh work will be done using a lightweight, amphibious excavator, and is anticipated to be completed no later than mid-April. Planting of the marsh will occur in the mid to late spring. Ecological monitoring of the site is ongoing and will continue after the project is completed.