Sachuest Point Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown, RI © Ayla Fox

Stories in Rhode Island

Saving Sachuest Point Marsh

The Nature Conservancy pioneers new technique to reduce flooding.

The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are strengthening one of Rhode Island’s iconic places: Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.

Tucked behind Third Beach, Sachuest’s salt marsh was drowning, unable to keep up with sea-level rise. With an opportunity to act, we poured 1,000 dump truck loads of sand directly onto the refuge.

Heavy equipment carefully spread the material, building up the marsh so that water would drain off during each low tide.

While the solution seems low-tech, the bulldozer’s blade was guided by a Conservancy computer model, contouring the marsh to within centimeters. Through natural re-growth and supplemental planting, the salt marsh is establishing itself at the new elevation.

It’s the latest example of a broad Nature Conservancy-USFWS partnership, protecting and restoring lands and waters across the country for people and nature.