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Eight Towns and The Great Marsh

Eight Towns & the Great Marsh

Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is a committee of municipally appointed citizens dedicated to the restoration and protection of coastal waters and associated watersheds on the upper North Shore of Massachusetts Bay. We work to foster stewardship of coastal resources by heightening public awareness of, and restoring coastal habitat, mitigating coastal water quality impacts, providing technical assistance, and developing and supporting local research and educational projects.

The Committee works to foster stewardship of coastal resources by heightening public awareness of, and mitigating estuarine impacts from sea level rise and climate change, 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 MassBays Partnership (MBP) and represents the environmental interests of the Great Marsh. 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 kayakers guide
  • Low-impact development (LID) projects
  • Circulation modeling in the Merrimack Estuary/Plum Island Sound
  • Erosion modeling of Plum Island shoreline
  • 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
  • Management of invasive species, including green crab, Phragmites, and perennial pepperweed
The Great Marsh Partnership

The Committee works closely with the Great Marsh Partnership and is a core member of that team which is comprised of local university scientists, nonprofit organizations, federal and state entities and the local communities of the Great Marsh. Much of the work of the Partnership is focused on restoration and resiliency projects in the Great Marsh. Projects include, eelgrass restoration, dune restoration hydrodynamic modeling of the estuary, invasive species management, living shoreline projects and other resiliency efforts.

The Great Marsh Coalition

Eight Towns and the Great Marsh is a member of the Great Marsh Coalition which, along with other not-for-profit environmental organizations, works to promote the Great Marsh. This unique complex of natural coastal marsh systems extends from Cape Ann northward into southern New Hampshire. The Great Marsh adds ecological, economic, recreational, and cultural value to the region, both on the coast and inland, where land is connected by river and stream networks. The Coalition meets regularly to discuss education and outreach project development and hosts an annual event, or series of field trips to raise awareness of the Great Marsh.

North Shore Greenscapes Coalition

As a founding member of the North Shore Greenscapes Coalition, Eight Towns and the Great Marsh works with area communities to reduce stormwater runoff and protect water resources through education and outreach on smart landscaping, stormwater, and water use practices. As a result of this program, communities are better prepared to meet MS4 stormwater permits and water management permit requirements. The Coalition is an advocate for information, and provides member communities with a valuable knowledge source and educational outreach products, from reference guides to targeted outreach programs. The Coalition also provides participating communities activities and resources for their individual outreach campaigns, from print and support materials (flyers, calendars, newsletters) to school programs to demonstration site tours and discounts for Greenscapes goods and services. Get involved at www.greenscapes.org.

PIE-Rivers Partnership

The Committee is represented on the PIER-Rivers Partnership Steering Committee. PIE-Rivers is a cross-watershed collaborative focused on promoting clean water and healthy ecosystems in the Parker, Ipswich, and Essex Rivers. The Partnership takes a multifaceted approach to address issues relating to water quality, water conservation, river and stream continuity, and land use across the region. The Partnership meets regularly to advance the PIE Rivers Action Plan and shares their work and accomplishments through newsletters and an annual meeting. To find out more, visit www.pie-rivers.org.