Environment

Eight Towns and the Great Marsh

Eight Towns and the Great Marsh

9 North Shore concerned coastal communities


When it comes to protecting Massachusetts’ North Shore waters, our citizens get involved. Very involved. Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is a committee of municipally appointed citizens dedicated to the protection of coastal waters and associated watersheds on the upper North Shore of Massachusetts Bay. The Committee works to foster stewardship of coastal resources by heightening public awareness of, and mitigating coastal water quality impacts, providing technical assistance, and developing and supporting local research and educational projects. The committee members represent nine North Shore communities: Salisbury, Amesbury, Newburyport, Newbury, Rowley, Ipswich, Essex, Gloucester and Rockport.

The Committee is the upper North Shore regional representative of the Massachusetts Bays Program (MBP). The Committee is partially funded under the Clean Water Act through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is administered by both MBP and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission. MVPC has been providing staff and technical support to the Committee since 1993.

Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is one of five local governance committees within the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary region. Committee members meet monthly and are appointed by the chief elected officials in their communities. They work closely with local officials, citizens, nonprofit groups, and state and federal agencies to promote coastal protection. However, the Committee isn’t limited to the nine communities it represents. Issues within the coastal watersheds of the Merrimack River, Parker River, Ipswich River and the North Coastal Basin are other impacted geographic areas.

Eight Town and the Great Marsh projects include:

  • Designation of the Great Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC)
  • Development of a web-based kayackers guide
  • Low impact development (LID) projects
  • Circulation modeling in the Merrimack Estuary/Plum Island Sound
  • Smart Growth (including OSRD, Affordable Housing, Green Neighborhoods, Open Space)
  • Anadromous fish passage, boater no-discharge area designation and sea level rise
  • Scenic coastal byway designation, and more


Volunteers doing Benthic Monitoring

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The Merrimack Valley is a picturesque home to marshes, beaches, forests, fields and wildlife. We work with many community organizations and concerned citizens to protect these natural resources and bring development and preservation balance to the region.



  • Merrimack Valley Planning Commission
    160 Main Street
    Haverhill, MA 01830
    p: 978.374.0519
    f: 978.372.4890
    e: info@mvpc.org