Places We Protect

Bristol Marsh Preserve


A tidal marsh at low tide. An exposed shoreline covered in small rocks and pebbles, dotted with larger stones. Aquatic vegetation grows thickly in the open water. Large trees line the background.
Bristol Marsh Preserve Freshwater tidal marsh at the Bristol Marsh Preserve. © George C. Gress/TNC

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



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.




Daily, from dawn to dusk


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


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

Stay in Touch

Subscribe to Nature News, our monthly e-newsletter. Get the latest news and updates about our conservation efforts locally and around the world, delivered straight to your inbox.

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.

See the Complete Map