Lush wetlands meet a rocky shoreline to form a pocket o
Bristol Marsh Preser Freshwater tidal marsh at the Bristol Marsh Preserve © George C. Gress/The

Places We Protect

Bristol Marsh Preserve

Sustaining a vibrant future for the people and wildlife 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.

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.

Location

Southeastern Pennsylvania, in Bucks County’s historic Bristol Borough

Threats

Invasive Species, Stream Bank Erosion & Sedimentation, Vandalism and Littering

What’s At Stake

The marsh harbors wetland plants, including Indian wild rice, Walter's barnyard grass, waterhemp ragweed and two species of arrowhead. It also serves as an isolated haven for wildlife, including many migratory waterfowl.

Milestones

In 1986 The Nature Conservancy secured a long-term conservation management agreement with Bristol Borough on eleven 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 Conservancy’s work with the Heritage Conservancy on management and restoration projects that will keep this area intact for future generations to enjoy.

The Bristol Marsh Preserve, so close to major population centers, 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.

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