What is the Great Marsh Coalition?
The Great Marsh Coalition is a group of organizations and agencies that began meeting in spring 2000 to discuss ways of building a regional consciousness and identity for the Great Marsh. The Coalition supports a coordinated approach to education, research, protection, and management to promote preservation, restoration, and stewardship of the Great Marsh. Current Coalition members include (but are not limited to): Eight Towns and the Great Marsh, Essex County Greenbelt Association, Essex National Heritage Area, Ipswich River Watershed Association, Massachusetts Audubon Society, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management's ACEC Program, Parker River Clean Water Association, Cultural Alliance of the Lower Merrimack Valley, and The Trustees of Reservations.
What is the goal of the Coalition?
Stewardship of the Great Marsh requires long-term, coordinated efforts from many organizations and agencies along with dedicated public and political support. The Coalition seeks ways to develop and implement a campaign for the Great Marsh to increase public awareness of this unique area in order to expand the number of citizens, businesses, educators, local officials, politicians, and others who will support this environmental stewardship initiative. The Coalition strives to make the Great Marsh a well-known "coastal treasure in our backyard." This awareness will help build a large and diverse support network for protection of the Great Marsh.
How did the Coalition form?
In 1996, a collaborative effort known as the Great Marsh Initiative began among agencies, non profit environmental groups, land trusts, and municipal governments to implement a management plan based on five years of environmental research, policy development, and education in the Great Marsh. Subsequently, four Great Marsh "teams" formed to focus on topics of land protection, salt marsh restoration, water quality, and anadromous fish restoration. Although many environmentally knowledgeable professionals and citizens regard the Great Marsh as an internationally significant ecological resource, team members observed that the general public is not yet aware of the environmental, economic, cultural, and recreational significance of this area. In order to better manage and protect the Great Marsh, team members determined that they must strive to engage a wider audience and build an appreciation and understanding of the Great Marsh among its local communities. Thus, the Coalition was formed to broaden the scope of the Great Marsh Initiative by creating an identity for the Great Marsh and helping the public understand, appreciate, and become interested in protection of the marsh and surrounding watersheds.
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