Motorists traveling along Route 195 in New Bedford and Fairhaven, MA, may have noticed excavators and bulldozers at work along the Acushnet River, just behind the Breakwater Marina. The work is part of a two-phase project being led by the Buzzards Bay Coalition to restore 11 acres of tidal marshland on the Marsh Island peninsula lost to industrialization.
Once the project is complete, the public will be able to access the site via a walkway around the perimeter. Handicap and stroller-accessible ramps will be installed at a parking area at the end of Taber Street in Fairhaven.
Aside from the Coalition, other entities involved in the project include the New Bedford Harbor Trustee Council, which has provided approximately $4.6 million in funding, and the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, which provided a $2 million grant. The project is a conservation partnership between the New Bedford Harbor Trustee Council, the MA Division of Ecological Restoration, the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and the Fairhaven-Acushnet Land Preservation Trust.
History of Marsh Island
The Marsh Island peninsula was originally saltmarsh with granite outcrops that was separated from the mainland by tidal creeks. It now represents the largest remaining stretch of undeveloped land along New Bedford’s Inner Harbor. Historically, Marsh Island was used for recreation and picnicking in the 1800’s until it was sold to the Wamsutta Mills in 1871. It was then used as a granite quarry for several decades. Granite from the quarry was used to construct the New Bedford-Fairhaven bridge. From the 1930’s to the 1950’s, sediment dredged from the harbor was used to fill the old quarry, as well as the marshes on the island.