Sen. Kelly Applauds Restoration of Stratford’s Great Meadows Marsh

August 31, 2022

Ribbon cutting with students from Stratford High School and Bunnell High School who served as “Salt Marsh Stewards” planting over 155,000 native plants and revitalizing the marsh.

12 local “Salt Marsh Stewards” from Stratford and Bunnell high schools, along with three crew leaders, over 150 volunteers, elected officials, and partners, have helped turn the marsh back into a haven for wildlife and the local community.


Watch Sen. Kelly’s remarks at the ribbon cutting:


STRATFORD – Connecticut’s coastline has received an exciting refresh: After years of planning and fundraising, 34 acres of salt marsh and other important coastal habitat has been restored at Great Meadows Marsh, a Globally Important Bird Area, and part of Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. The public is now welcome to visit the marsh’s old – and new – trails, and take in the sights of fall migration via two viewing platforms.


“This is an incredible accomplishment resulting from the work of so many to restore and revitalize the marsh, protect wildlife, rebuild ecosystems, and combat the effects of climate change,” said Senate Republican Leader Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford). “To see this project completed with the restoration of 34 acres of salt marsh is wonderful and transformative. This could not have been done without the 12 students from Stratford and Bunnell high schools who worked as Salt Marsh Stewards, as well as their crew leaders and over 150 volunteers who gave their time. Our entire community shares our deepest gratitude with all who invested in this project to improve CT’s coastline and give our beautiful native plants and wildlife the ability to thrive. I look forward to visiting with my kids and grandkids, and seeing future generations learn about the importance of protecting and preserving our coastline and salt marsh.”


Since construction began in October 2021, Great Meadows Marsh has transformed into a haven for threatened plants and animals, and community access has been greatly improved. Over 155,000 native coastal plants and shrubs were added to the site by 12 paid, seasonal “Salt Marsh Stewards” from Stratford and Bunnell high schools – with the help of three crew leaders and over 150 volunteers; a new creek restored the natural flow of salt water in and out with the tides; grassy mounds were created to provide an elevated home for nesting Saltmarsh Sparrows; and two viewing platforms were built (soon to become ADA-accessible).


While there is much to celebrate, project partners Audubon Connecticut, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will dedicate three additional years to monitoring project outcomes and improving upon their successes. Invasive species will continue to be managed, and additional native plants and shrubs will be put in the ground.


The salt marsh at Great Meadows was once more than 1,400 acres, but largely due to development, it had been reduced to less than 700 acres. As well, because of dredged soils brought in as fill, colonization by non-native plants, and sea-level rise, portions of it no longer functioned properly. The degraded marsh produced abundant mosquitoes that plagued locals and visitors for years. Now, the restored marsh and its creeks provide healthy habitat for Horseshoe crabs and Blue crabs, the beautiful and endangered Marsh Pink flower, Saltmarsh Sparrow and other migratory birds, and fish like Atlantic Silverside and Menhaden.


Corrie Folsom-O’Keefe, Bird Conservation Director for Audubon Connecticut; Senator Tony Hwang (R-Fairfield); Rob LaFrance, Director of Policy, Audubon Connecticut; and Senator Kevin Kelly (R-Stratford).

Sen. Kelly applauds the efforts of so many to bring the Great Meadows Marsh restoration project to fruition. Behind him, Senator Tony Hwang, Audubon Connecticut Director of Policy Rob LaFrance, and Senator Richard Blumenthal.


Sen. Kelly thanks students from Stratford and Bunnell high schools who worked as “Salt Marsh Stewards” planting over 155,000 plants and revitalizing the marsh.


View more photos from the event here.


Learn more from Audubon Connecticut: