Save The Bay's mission is to ensure that the environmental quality of Narragansett Bay and its watershed is restored and protected from the harmful effects of human activity. Save The Bay seeks carefully planned use of the Bay and its watershed to allow the natural system to function normally and healthfully, both now and for the future.
Salt Marsh Restoration
Among factors that influence the health and future of Narragansett Bay is the condition of the watershed's remaining salt marshes. Save The Bay works with communities and community groups to protect and restore salt marshes. This critical habitat is constantly threatened by poor resource management and neglect.
The salt marshes we see today began forming in coves and protected harbors approximately 3,500 years ago. The extent of salt marsh destruction is difficult to determine, but consider that much of downtown Providence and Quonset Point are built on filled coastal wetlands.
In a single decade (1955-1964), property developers filled 10% of Rhode Island's coastal wetlands larger than 40 acres in size. Based on 1996 aerial photographs, there are 3,738.8 acres of salt marsh remaining in the Bay -- estimated at only 50% of the coastal wetlands that existed at the time of European colonization. Consequently, Save The Bay works to protect, restore and preserve these essential coastal resources.
Our fish runs are severely threatened, but enormous opportunities exist to restore viable self-sustaining fish runs. Many of the dams and water impoundments that exist on Narragansett Bay tributaries no longer serve the useful purposes for which they were originally intended. Some of these ancient structures are in severe states of decay and disrepair, and threaten public safety.
In Narragansett Bay's watershed, there are at least 41 streams and rivers that have potential for fish run restoration in both RI and MA. There are 18 existing fish runs in the Narragansett Bay watershed but most of these existing runs are in need of further restoration.
Historically, at least 45 runs existed in the Narragansett Bay watershed. Among these are four of the most significant freshwater tributaries of Narragansett Bay - the Taunton, Blackstone, Pawtuxet and Ten Mile rivers.
There are many important steps we must take to restore our fish runs. Not only can we remove unnecessary dams and build effective fishways, we can also restore stream habitats like forested riverbank wetlands and improve water quality by reducing pollution discharges to make these rivers and streams once again productive fish runs.