Tidmarsh Farms, Inc.

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Tidmarsh in Transition

Moving toward a wildlife sanctuary

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Finding a path to put almost 600 acres of land into conservation in a way that will insure a publicly accessible future takes patience and a lot of work! As this summer sped by, I was remiss in not updating this site regarding our progress.

Today, the the active construction of Tidmarsh East wetland restoration more or less complete, and the the healing trajectory is underway!  For this we are grateful to many people including: Alex Hackman of Mass Fish & Game's Division of Ecological Restoration whose passion, knowledge and talent guided the oversight of restoration actions - well done! Inter-Fluve, whose design specifications and oversite were critical; special thanks to Nick Nelson who travelled many miles around the site by bicycle checking every detail. Travis and Chad Sumner who with their team of skilled and dedicated machine operators from SumCo Eco-Contracting realized the design; you are the best!  Our funding partners without whom we could not have made this journey: here we extend special thanks to USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services Wetland Reserve Program, especially Beth Schreier and Helen Castles; the US Fish and Wildlife Service, especially Eric Derleth; NOAA especially Eric Hutchins;  David Gould and Kim Tower of Plymouth's Department of Marine and Environmental Affairs; and many others.  We also thank our neighbors, friends and supporters; we appreciate your patience and support.  Finally our Living Observatory partners especially our superb greenhouse team, Irina Kadis and Alexey Zinojvej of Salicicola.com and Claire and Emma Esterman.  This landscape modification could not have happened without all of you you!

However, we have not reached the end of this journey.  We now turn our energy to the goal of transitioning the ownership of the property, so that the almost 600 acres of land right here in Manomet will become publicly accessible. As many of you know, Mass Audubon has set the goal of purchasing Tidmarsh East and turning it into MassAudubon's Tidmarsh Wildlife SanctuaryThe theme of the sanctuary is "Welcoming Nature's Return". Here is a video of their pitch.  If you can help or know someone who can help make this a reality, please send them to MassAudbon.org/tidmarsh.

Meanwhile, the scientist, artists, engineers and others working with Living Observatory are busy keeping a detailed record of the changes that have and will occur on the property.  While the property itself is still closed to the public,  you can follow the property today using applications provided by a team at the MIT Media Lab.  These include a window of current sensor data, time lapse movies, a virtual tidmarsh in which sensor data drives musical compositions. Also you can sign up for Halsey Burgund's BogPeople, an application in which you can hear many past voices of the property. Beginning this spring, we will be building several volunteer activiites including:  an annual herring count, invasive species watch, native seed collection, and helping out in the native plant nursery.  If you are interested in joining us as a regular volunteer, please send your info to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Where are we going from here

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In keeping with spring's tradition, restoration is met with renewal across the landscape. Today the active phase of earth-moving on Tidmarsh East is nearing completion. In parallel, we are working with Mass Audubon's experienced specialists in land conservation, public outreach and education to sharpen the vision for the property and realize a Mass Audubon Sanctuary for wildlife and people. We are excited as this next phase of the project comes into focus.

In parallel, we recently closed on a wetland easement on with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) on Tidmarsh West. Together with our partners - NRCS and Ma. Fish and Game Division of Ecological Restoration - we have completed preliminary restoration designs for this next phase of wetland restoration. Finally, Living Observatory has been set up as a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization focused on the science, interpretation and experience of the changing landscape (and yes we accept donations).

As summer swings into view, the changes in the landscape continue to stagger and inspire us. The metaphor is corny, but the land is coming back to life, greening, teaming with ducks, killdeer, red wing blackbirds, and the proverbial gypsy moth caterpillars.

Dug in May, this pond filled in early June.  Three weeks later, I witnessed 3 osprey who alighting on the upright wood pieces to enjoy the fruits of their fishing.

At the end of June, planting commenced as the first of the atlantic white cedars arrived from Sudbury Nursery West.


Signs of life in the new channel

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The construction at Tidmarsh East continues to amaze and inspire. The newly dug western channel is now ‘turned on’ from Cell 5 (the former reservoir) all the way north through Cell 1.  Three and a half earthen dams have been removed.  Thousands of cubic yards of sand have been moved to expose peat which in many places is chock full of old trees.  And so much more.



Alex Hackman, Project Manager from Division of Ecological Restoration, returned to the site after a short vacation.  He writes: " we are [already] witnessing the return of life to the stream channel!  Just a few weeks ago…nothing but bare mud and sand.   Today…fish and algae are present in Cell 2.   Green slime might not inspire many, but it sure knocked my socks off yesterday.  Of course, 60 degree weather in February helps to get things growing. "

A driving goal of Living Observatory is to capture ‘time zero’ and those rapid changes that follow.   We are now in the midst of this (rare and limited duration!) period of preliminary biological re-colonization and physical adjustment in the restored channel.  Alex, thanks for these pictures.  We look forward to a continuing stream of discovery!

Connecting the River

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After 3 months of securing the relic channel for full water passage, digging the river channel through the western bogs, and casting bridge footings, abuttments and wing walls,  SumCo was ready to connect the main stem of the new channel with the relic channel. For the moment, the river flows through 2 culverts under the roadway. This is a super-milestone!  In the spring, the new bridge will be put in place over a free flowing channel.

Welcoming in 2016

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We welcomed in 2016 in the good company of family and friends and several walks around the restoration site.  Paul and Linda Williams helped organize and publicize a community walk for Saturday, January 2. Our thanks to thanks to Evelyn Strawn and Betsy Hall for spreading the word! And to the 40 people who showed up to witness the amazing transformation of Tidmarsh in progress.

Before we began to walk we had to reroute a lot of cars to another entrance as the berm we planned to walk across became impassable shortly before New Years day.  Once the group assembled, we scooted around the "Closed for Construction" gate just below Heather Drive, circling cell 6 and the "island", and after a bit arriving to witness the transformation of cell 2 and how the river channel will connect to cell 3.

Continuing along the eastern edge of cell 2, past iconic views of the new river channel the group arrived at the junction of the bogs and the relic channel. Concrete work in progress is hard to ooh and ahh about, but everyone was enthusiastic about the prospect of a bridge creating the east-west crossing in that spot.  We went on to examine the remarkable properties of a log jam that now allows the relic channel to connect with itself.  Beautiful work!

Next the gang climbed "Mars" for the best view of the valley.  Arriving back at the southern end of cell 2, the group separated with approximately half the gang going back to their cars; and the remainder carrying on along the West side of cell 3 and up to the marsh (an older transformation of the former reservoir).  Circling back, this group had a quick tour of the native plant greenhouse.



Wishing everyone a fun, productive and healthy 2016!




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This Month on the Farm

December January 2016

Mass Audubon has launched a campaign to establish the

Tidmarsh Nature Sanctuary, Click the link for more information massaudubon.org/tidmarsh

To see the video Click the link


Visit Tidmarsh virtually



Visit Living Observatory's new website



Visit Bog People



11 Oct 2014 Administrator

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