A salt marsh is a type of marsh that is a transitional intertidal between land and salty or brackish water (e.g.: sloughs, bay, estuaries). It is dominated by halophytic (salt tolerant) herbaceous plants. Historically, salt marshes have sometimes been treated as "wastelands", along with other wetlands. Salt marshes are one of the most biologically productive habitats on the planet, rivaling tropical rainforests. The daily tidal surges bring in nutrients, which tends to settle in roots of the plants within the salt marsh. The natural chemical activity of salty (or brackish) water and the tendency of algae to bloom in the shallow unshaded water also allow for great biodiversity.
Salt marshes provide a benefit by protecting against severe weather. In the past, substantial areas of saltmarsh have been reclaimed as agricultural land and for urban development, but in the United States and Europe they are now accorded a high level of protection by the Clean Water Act and the Habitats Directive respectively. There is growing interest in restoring salt marshes, through managed retreat or through the reclamation of lands used for other purposes by salt marsh vegetation.
Our Salt marsh has many interesting features and has recently gone through a immense change.
Over the winter of 2008-2009, the Wooden Slew structure that directed the Old Field Creek was removed. The Slew originally caused the river to end directly into the sound. Due to the Longshore Drift along our shoreline, the sand from the beaches began to block the river's path.
The Longshore Drift in West Haven moves from west to east. All of the sand that is dumped on the beach and erodes away, ends up as part of the Sandy Point sand spit. As you can see in the animation to the left of this text, the sand moves to the east as sand and mud accumulate behind the growing spit. Our Sandy Point spit is somewhere around Stage 5. Sandy Point is not a naturally occuring formation in West Haven. It formed due to the fill that we add to our beaches.
The original pipes that allowed the creek to flow under Beach St. were clogged with years of silt and debris. this blocked the salt water from flowing up stream at high tide. The old pipes were replaced and the new flood gates were added.