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.
Southeastern Pennsylvania, in Bucks County’s historic Bristol Borough
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.
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.