Living Observatory Projects

Living Observatory (LO) is a public interest learning collaborative of scientists, artists, and wetland restoration practitioners engaged in the documenting, interpreting, and revealing the arc of change as it occurs prior to, during, and following the ecological wetland restoration on retired cranberry farms. LO was initially founded to complement the trajectory of the Tidmarsh Farms Restoration Project, the largest freshwater wetland restoration project to date in Massachusetts, and the upcoming restoration at Foothills Preserve.

This new site, at projects.livingobservatory.org, will serve as a central hub for Living Observatory researchers, projects, and data. Here you will be able to explore the diverse group of people and the projects that comprise LO.

Project Updates

Windswept Cranberry Bog Restoration Project Awarded $1 Million USFWS Grant

Windswept Bog, Nantucket Island MA: Watershed-scale Wetland Restoration and Research
By Karen Beattie on February 29, 2024
The Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game's Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), in partnership with the Nantucket Conservation Foundation, has been awarded $1 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for the Windswept Bog Wetland Restoration Project, which will restore and enhance a 231-acre property containing 39 acres of former cranberry bog and 111 acres of natural wetlands.

2024 Herring Count Training Dates!

Volunteer River Herring Monitoring at Beaver Dam Brook and Manomet Brook
By Kimberly Snyder on February 27, 2024
That time of year is here again! Herring count trainings have been scheduled for our new and returning volunteers!

Surveying Restored Wetlands and Streams to Inform Research on Ecosystem Function

Quantifying Nutrient Transport and Transformation in Stream Channels Associated with Active, Retired, and Restored Cranberry Farms
By Molly Welsh on January 25, 2024
As part of an ongoing project to assess changes in ecosystem structure and function following wetland restoration, scientists from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) have been measuring water chemistry, streamflow, water storage, and topography at a range of active cranberry farms and those that have been retired and converted into wetlands. As part of these assessments, post-restoration surveying has been conducted at two sites, Manomet Brook and Eel River.

Groundbreaking on Windswept Bog Restoration Project, Nantucket MA

Windswept Bog, Nantucket Island MA: Watershed-scale Wetland Restoration and Research
By Jen Karberg on January 17, 2024
The Nantucket Conservation Foundation is excited to announce that we have broken ground on a multiyear, watershed-level restoration of our Windswept Bog property this was retired from active cranberry farming in 2017. Initial work on the site started just last week an dis progressing quickly! This significant milestone is the culmination of over four years of research, monitoring, engineering plan development, permitting, and grant writing undertaken by NCF, the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration’s Cranberry Bog Program (DER) and Fuss & O’Neill, Inc. engineers.

Winterizing the nursery

Growing Atlantic White Cedars for Wetland Restoration Sites
By Glorianna Davenport on December 10, 2023
The past two weeks, Moses has been helping me winterize the nursery. Tasks include putting pots in pans of water so the roots of the AWC potted trees stay moist, cleaning the plastic ends and cover rolls on the greenhouse, putting up a snow fence, wrapping the groups of larger AWC that are growing up by the house to protect them from the intense sun and drying winds of spring that can be destructive prior to leaf out of the river birches.

2023 Herring Count Results Are In!

Volunteer River Herring Monitoring at Beaver Dam Brook and Manomet Brook
By Sara P. Grady on October 31, 2023
The data from 2023 have been compiled and Mass. Division of Marine Fisheries has provided us with a population estimate of ~2,390. This is the highest population estimate thus far, although close to the estimate of ~2,246 in 2019. All the fish were seen at Tidmarsh #2. This was a welcome increase in abundance after multiple years across SE Massachusetts with low counts. Similar recoveries were seen at other South Shore runs including Pembroke's Herring Brook (up to ~190,000 after an estimate of ~5,800 in 2022) and Plymouth's Town Brook (~277,000 up from ~169,000 in 2022).

Summary and Index: Making Meaning at Tidmarsh

Making Meaning at Tidmarsh
By Glorianna Davenport on October 20, 2023 (updated October 23, 2023)
Seven years post restoration, 51 people from 21 organizations assembled at Mass Audubon's Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary to walk, explore, and learn how this wetland restoration has responded to the restoration intervention. The goal of the day was to learn together about the process of recovery at Tidmarsh, and collect insights that can be applied to other wetland restorations of cranberry farmland.

Mycorrhizal Research at Tidmarsh Farms

Growing Atlantic White Cedars for Wetland Restoration Sites
By Olivia Kurz on July 24, 2023
Olivia Kurz, a doctoral student in Ecology at SUNY ESF, will be studying the mycorrhizal fungi (fungi that partner with the roots of plants) communities of Atlantic white cedars at natural cedar swamp sites as well as sites where cedars have recently been restored. Olivia is thrilled that Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary will be one of the sites representing restored Atlantic white cedars. Through this research, Olivia hopes to contribute basic research about the mycorrhizal dynamics of cedar swamps in hopes of contributing knowledge to improve cedar cultivation and cedar swamp ecosystem restoration efforts.

Scientists Measure Flow in Streams Associated with Cranberry Farms and Constructed Wetlands

Quantifying Nutrient Transport and Transformation in Stream Channels Associated with Active, Retired, and Restored Cranberry Farms
By Molly Welsh on July 13, 2023
Regular flow measurements are completed by scientists, postdoctoral research associates, and research technicians from the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Research Station in streams associated with active cranberry farms, retired cranberry farms, and former cranberry farms that have been converted to wetland systems.

Routine Water Quality Sampling Continues Across a Range of Wetlands

Quantifying Nutrient Transport and Transformation in Stream Channels Associated with Active, Retired, and Restored Cranberry Farms
By Molly Welsh on July 13, 2023
Scientists, postdoctoral research associates, and research technicians from the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and the University of Massachusetts Cranberry Research Station have been conducting weekly water sampling in streams running through active and retired cranberry farms since the summer of 2022. Water sampling also occurs on former cranberry farms that have undergone active restoration to freshwater wetlands. The researchers are investigating differences in water chemistry among these diverse ecosystems.