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RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462
DEM'S "MARSH WALKER" TO BE USED IN BARRINGTON AS HELP IN MARSH RESTORATION STUDY
Improved Mosquito Control Seen as One Benefit to Restoring Allinís Cove
PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management's "marsh walker" will be in use tomorrow at Allinís Cove in West Barrington, an 11-acre salt marsh that was filled many years ago with dredge spoils, restricting water flow. The area has been taken over by Phragmites, an invasive tall grass. As part of a feasibility study to find out how to revitalize the salt marsh the US Army Corps needs to take elevations at the site. The "marsh walker" will be used to cut six-foot wide swaths through the Phragmites so the survey can be done.
The coastal habitat restoration project when complete will return tidal flow to the area and re-establish the cove as a habitat for various marine fish. As an added value, the restoration of tidal flow will contribute to mosquito abatement by reducing mosquito breeding grounds.
The "marsh walker" is an odd and unique piece of construction equipment. It is designed like a "Bobcat" with out-sized, extra-wide, caterpillar tracks. It looks as though the tracks would crush the marsh, while, in fact, the opposite is true. The size of its tracks spread the load to two pounds per square foot of pressure, or less than one person's body weight.
Officially called a low-ground-pressure vehicle, the $60,000 piece of equipment, purchased last year from ASV of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, is suitable for oil spill response and restoration in marsh areas without damaging sensitive wetlands plants.
While waiting for use in oil spill response, the marsh walker is being field tested as a water management tool in mosquito habitat control. It has been used, for instance, in Westerly to
clean out clogged ditches, fill in non-functional ditches, improve a fish reservoir and create a second one at Weekapaug Marsh and for similar mosquito control operations at Winnapaug Marsh, making it easier for fish to reach and eat mosquito larvae.
The RI Coastal Resources Management Council, the US Army Corps, the Town of Barrington, the Allinís Cove Neighborhood Association, the Barrington Land Conservation Trust, the Barrington Conservation Commission and salt marsh working group, Save the Bay and DEM are collaborating in the long-term restoration plans for Allinís Cove. State financial match for the project comes from a legislative appropriation.
Directions to site: From Route 114 South, turn right onto Lincoln Avenue, left onto Washington Road, right onto Annawamscutt, and right onto Willow Way. Continue to end of Willow Way to park; then walk north.