Places We Protect

Bristol Marsh Preserve

Pennsylvania

A freshwater tidal marsh. A wide body of water is circled by tall grasses and flowering plants. A forest dominates the background, lining the horizon under a blue sky streaked with white clouds.
Bristol Marsh The best remaining example of a freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania. © John Hinkson / TNC

Bristol Marsh is the best remaining example of a freshwater tidal marsh 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.

The 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.

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.

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 TNC on seven acres of adjacent land, now owned by Dow Chemical, which ensures that the marsh will be well buffered from disturbance. Many conservation-minded organizations and individuals have 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 Pennsylvania

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

Guide to iNaturalist

Join a community of citizen scientists using our iNaturalist fact sheet.

Become A Citizen Scientist

We are creating a citizen science database of all kinds of life—from lichens to ants, mushrooms to plants, birds to mammals and everything in between for our preserves in Pennsylvania and Delaware.

TNC's roots began with local citizens and scientists concerned about special places and species. That legacy continues today. Across our lands, we are utilizing iNaturalist—a digital platform that gives users an opportunity to share and discuss their findings.

Of the 14 preserve projects in iNaturalist, nine have observations recorded; help us increase that number and our understanding of the species—good and bad, native as well as invasive—that can be found on TNC lands across the state. This information can also help guide and inform our conservation staff's management and monitoring decisions.

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Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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