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Learn About Restoration of Herring River at Cape Cod National Seashore


Learn how officials hope to restore the salt marsh along the Herring River during a canoe trip with a Cape Cod National Seashore ecologist. NPS photo of the Herring River.

For more than a century the Herring River, which flows through Cape Cod National Seashore, has struggled ecologically due to a dike built to keep mosquitoes from breeding in the surrounding salt water marsh. Now a collaborative effort is under way to restore the ecosystem.

"While healthy salt marshes are among the most productive ecosystems on the planet, many critical estuaries along the Atlantic coast have been damaged by development, including the Herring River in Wellfleet," according to the seashore staff.

To gain an understanding of the problems, and the solution (see attached pdf), you can join a ranger during a canoe paddle along the river on August 4. During the paddle the seashore's restoration ecologist, Tim Smith, will discuss the collaborative project under way to restore the river's salt marsh.

According to seashore officials, while the dike built in 1909 was erected with good intentions, it actually made matters worse.

"By blocking the natural flushing of the marsh, it created more stagnant water where mosquitoes could lay their eggs, and reduced habitat for native fish and shellfish. During the program Smith will explain how scientists plan to incrementally raise the tide gates inside the dike to reestablish natural tidal flow and bring back native salt marsh plants and animals, which will even help to control pests like mosquitoes," say seashore officials.

A fee is required for this program. For reservations, call the Province Lands Visitor Center at 508- 487-1256. Head into the field with a park researcher every Wednesday throughout July and August in the weekly “Science at the Seashore” program.

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