Island Road is a low-lying causeway, crossing and dividing a 70-acre salt marsh, leading to Essex Bay. The road prevents the daily surface flow of tidal waters necessary for a healthy salt marsh. Two small pipe culverts (now rusting) were placed in the road in the 1960’s to allow for some saltwater flow, but still prevent most of the necessary salt water to reach the remaining saltmarsh on the other side of the road. As in most other unhealthy saltmarshes in New England patches of Phragmites have invaded along the outer marsh areas along the road.
The goal is to increase tidal flow of this 20-acre site, therefore increasing the fish access throughout the marsh and enhancing conditions for natural salt marsh vegetation. The increased tidal flow will also promote natural vegetation, increase open water habitat and increase bird and fish use throughout the salt marsh. In 2003, Ducks Unlimited and NOAA through the Community–based Restoration Program partnership , in collaboration with the Massachusetts Wetlands, Eight Towns and the Bay, National Resource Conservation Services/USDA, Town of Essex, Town of Rockport are expected to replace one of the pipe culverts with a larger fish-friendly box culvert. Local landowners and volunteers will be used to remove eroded roadbed material out of the marsh channels to increase water flow.