Making Meaning at Tidmarsh

Notes and Observations - Stop 2

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.

Stop 2: Before/After

Google earth images from 2012 and 2023

Restoration Actions

  • Remove earthen dam and water control structure.
  • Fill existing main channel and ditches (lateral and perimeter).
  • Reconstruct main channel.
  • Smooth upland-to-wetland transitions.
  • Roughen, uncompact the bog surface.
  • Create a small area of open water in the former channel (unfilled areas).


Stop 2 situated in the design plan


  • Growing platform will be wet
  • Growing platform will host a diversity of habitats and wetland plants, largely from the seedbank.
  • Area will mature as a vegetated fen.


  • Agricultural view-scapes were important to the public when we started project; we do not hear any complaints today.
  • Will Red maple (Swamp maple) out compete Atlantic white cedar?
  • Travis on design tradeoffs: there are springs within the bog segments; do you try to capture all these springs to keep the stream channel cooler or let this water remain in the ground to cool the platform? 

Observations collected from all participants

  • Peat at the center of this area is 15-25 feet deep.
  • Cool slow moving stream.
  • Variable steam depth.
  • Stream 18°C (64.4°F); air 28°C (82.4°F).
  • Stream meandeers capture colder ground water coming in from surrounding hills.
  • Stream bank stability with sandy soils need sediment
  • Wood creates pool habitat adding habitat diversity; nature making its own habitat.
  • Tradeoffs between water retention, stream flow, and nutrient retention.
  • Stream bed has lots of vegetation and there is some algae backed-up around large wood in stream
  • Good indicators of N removal.
  • Very sandy soil.
  • Agricultural ditches continue to hold water and support abundant cattails.
  • Not all channels were plugged/filled or have settled; should overfill channels.
  • Habitat is heterogeneous, complex..
  • Microtopography (pit and mound) hold small pools of water across surface; ideal for amphibian breeding.
  • Large woody debris makes good turtle habitat.
  • Plant species are quite diverse and include swamp milkweed, poison sumac, goldenrod, cranberries, ferns, pickerel weed, sedges.
  • A lot of trees (red maple, pine, black willow) and invasive (European willow).
  • Song sparrow, Red-winged blackbird, American gold finch, swallows, Red-tailed hawk, shore birds
  • Dragonflies, damselflies, monarch butterfly, fireflies (at night), ants, bees, no mosquitoes during the day
  • Painted turtle is the dominant turtle species; golden shiners observed during surveys (research).

A selection of images from participants


  • Lateral and side ditches should be overfilled during construction; this allows for settling in channel to occur.
  • Possible action: clip trees that are growing up at the root and left the wood on the platform? = European grey willow will just re-sprout.

Participants gather to learn about restoration actions and to learn specifics of an area; they then fan out and reassemble to discuss observations.
By Glorianna Davenport
October 19, 2023