State Adopts SLAMM Maps for Wetland Restoration and Adaptation

Rhode Island has lost more than half, or 4,000 acres, its salt marshes statewide, in the last 200 years – losing vital fisheries and wildlife habitat that also performs water quality and erosion control services.

“Our salt marshes are drowning in place today,” said Pam Rubinoff, extension specialist for Rhode Island Sea Grant working with partners on the Sea Levels Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) project, explaining how sea level rise is already impacting salt marshes and what the future may look like. “Not every salt marsh is equal, and the SLAMM model distinguishes topography type and associated vulnerabilities…but with a three foot increase in sea level, there may be significant salt marsh loss.”

The SLAMM model has incorporated various data from salt marsh vegetation surveys and sea level projections to identify upland areas to target for protection and restoration and develop adaptive strategies to preserve these sensitive areas, and depict current conditions and future scenarios given 1-foot to 5-feet sea level rise projections. Maps developed by SLAMM for all of the 21 Rhode Island coastal communities have now been adopted by the state as a way to show how salt marshes will likely transition and migrate into adjacent upland areas.

As of January 13, 2015, the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council has adopted proposed amendments to include the SLAMM maps that will aid in developing policy and guidelines, and training local and state decision-makers to protect salt marshes now and in the future.

 

+ Read more about changing salt marshes and restoration efforts in Rhode Island

 

– Meredith Haas | Rhode Island Sea Grant Research Communications Specialist 

Rhode Island Sea Grant, along with project partners CRMC, the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, The Nature Conservancy, Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Roger Williams University Maritime Institute, and Save The Bay have developed these maps, which can be integrated with other efforts, including the Shoreline Change (Beach) Special Area Management Plan.

The maps are also available online here: http://www.crmc.ri.gov/maps/maps_slamm.html.