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As seas rise, an effort to protect Maine's migrating salt marshes gets $1M boost

The marsh is now like an over-watered house plant, and it's also sinking. Those small puddles are turning into larger ones called mega pools.
Rebecca Conley
/
Maine Public
This Maine salt marsh is now like an over-watered house plant, and it's sinking. Those small puddles are turning into larger ones called mega pools.

As sea levels rise, salt marshes in Maine are expected to migrate into adjacent uplands. An anonymous million-dollar donation announced Thursday aims to protect them as they move.

Maine Coast Heritage Trust says the money will allow it to complete seven conservation deals, extending from York to Cutler, involving 950 acres in all.

The trust's Jeremy Gabrielson says in many cases salt marshes are conserved, but the adjacent uplands are not. He says the acquisitions are designed to allow those lands to adapt to the pattern of salt marsh migration.

"As sea level rises, what we expect will happen is that areas that are now uplands, so either forests or grasslands, will become saltier and able to support marsh habitat over time," Gabrielson says.

He says the trust plans to complete the deals by early next year. And it has another 27 marsh migration projects on deck.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.