This is the first post in a series about the Great Marsh. Be sure to check back to learn more about how you can enjoy and protect this wonderful and critical resource on Massachusetts’ North Shore!
Within the network of marsh, estuaries, mud flats and tidal rivers that make up the Great Marsh, the endangered least tern feels safe enough to make its nest along the shore. The least tern is just one of 350 bird species that uses some part of the Great Marsh’s diverse habitats for either breeding or migration purposes. The Great Marsh is the largest salt marsh in New England covering over 20,000 acres and extending from Gloucester to Salisbury. The area is bursting with diverse flora and fauna and for this reason it's recognized as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). In addition to birds, you may also see deer, coyotes, muskrats, beavers, raccoons, snapping turtles, toads and seals. ACEC designations, administered by the Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs' Department of Conservation and Recreation, are given to natural places for the uniqueness and significance of their natural and cultural resources. More proof of the wonders of the Great Marsh lie in that the area is designated an Important Bird Area and is home to the federal Parker River Wildlife Refuge, Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Sanctuary and many other areas protected by local land trusts and non-profits.
If all this talk has caught your eye and you’re ready to get out and experience the Great Marsh, there are numerous public beaches and parks you can visit. Two of my favorites are DCR's Sandy Point State Reservation on the Southern tip of Plum Island and Salisbury Beach State Reservation. If you are looking for other sites to explore within the Great Marsh, click here for all the best walking trails, paddling launch sites, and beaches.