Places We Protect

Bristol Marsh Preserve

Pennsylvania

Freshwater tidal marsh at the Bristol Marsh Preserve.
Bristol Marsh Preserve Freshwater tidal marsh at the Bristol Marsh Preserve. © George C. Gress/TNC

Sustaining a vibrant future for people and wildlife in Pennsylvania.

Overview

Description

Freshwater tidal marshes were never widespread in the mid-Atlantic region, occurring mainly along the banks of large rivers such as the Delaware and its tributaries. Since the arrival of William Penn, these fragile yet highly productive habitats have been all but eliminated by riverfront development. Bristol Marsh is the best remaining example of this vanishing natural community in Pennsylvania.

Although the marsh is small and surrounded by commercial development, six rare plants native to the Delaware River tidal marshes thrive here. Dependent on daily tidal flushing, these and other highly specialized wetland plants, nearly extirpated from Pennsylvania, comprise part of a marsh ecosystem that functions as a nursery, pollution filter and water purifier for the Delaware River.

Threats

Invasive species, stream bank erosion and sedimentation, vandalism and littering.

Milestones

In 1986 The Nature Conservancy secured a long-term conservation management agreement with Bristol Borough on 11 acres of marsh. Rohm and Haas Company donated a conservation easement to the Conservancy on seven acres of adjacent land, now owned by Dow Chemical, which ensures that the marsh will be well buffered from disturbance. Today, many conservation-minded organizations and individuals worked together to preserve this highly significant wetland, including the TNC’s work with the Heritage Conservancy on management and restoration projects that will keep this area intact for future generations to enjoy.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Hours

Daily, from dawn to dusk

Highlights

Wetland plants, including Indian wild rice, Walter's barnyard grass, waterhemp ragweed, two species of arrowhead and many migratory waterfowl.

Size

2.8 acres

Explore our work in this region

A map highlights the location of a nature preserve in green.
Bristol Marsh Preserve A map reveals the location and boundaries of The Nature Conservancy's Bristol Marsh preserve in Pennsylvania. © The Nature Conservancy

Close to major population centers, Bristol Marsh Preserve is open to the public for nature study and to raise awareness about the critical importance of wetland habitats. Viewing platforms and a nature trail with interpretive signs make this preserve ideal for visiting school groups. The nearby Silver Lake Nature Center also offers guided walks to the marsh.

Green wetland plants meet up with a gravelly shoreline.
Bristol Marsh Preserve
Bristol Marsh is the best remaining example of a freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania.

Support Pennsylvania Nature

Help us sustain a vibrant future for the people and wildlife that share Pennsylvania’s diverse landscape.