Hailey Erb-Environmental Science
Renee DeAngelis- Turfgrass Management
Nick Falcione-Urban Forestry
George Burgress- Building Construction Technology
NAT SCI 387 Junior Year Writing
University of Massachusetts Amherst
In the North Shore of Massachusetts, local middle and high school students attend field trips to the famed “Great Marsh” that happens to reside in their own backyards. They are accompanied by Mass Audubon staff scientists who are on a mission to educate the local youth on the importance of a healthy wetland ecosystem by maintaining biodiversity. The Great Marsh in the North Shore of Massachusetts has the largest amount of coastal salt marsh in New England, and in 2004 it came to the attention of residents and stakeholders that the invasive plant common reed (Phragmites australis) has been affecting a substantial amount of native plants that established the biodiversity needed to maintain a healthy wetland ecosystem. Massive stands of common reed had displaced the once thriving wetland ecosystem. Natural salt marshes act as sanctuaries for unique aquatic plants, coastal birds, and extensive marine life. As brackish waters creep up from the sea and across the shores of a marsh, the diverse forms of life contained within are nourished with a medley of fresh and salt water. When the integrity of a wetland ecosystem is maintained, the wetland can provide services like clean water, flood control, fish and wildlife habitat, and groundwater supply. When threatened, the pristine beauty of salt marshes is not the only commodity at risk: humans may also suffer (Ringelheim, Filosa, Baumann, & Astle, 2005).