The Economics Of The Early Salt Marsh

From the 75th Anniversary edition

Hampton Union

July 23, 1975

The Economics Of The Early Salt Marsh

By Ruth G. Stimson

Joseph Dow’s History of Hampton records that the early settlers were attracted by the vast salt marshes, "covered in summer with grass and level as a prairie." The staddles or wooden posts for the haycocks may still be seen. While farmers no longer use salt hay, the Hampton salt marshes are still valuable today, but for other reasons.

The foremost value of salt marshes anywhere, wetlands in land use classification, is their economic worth in:

1. Reduction and prevention of erosion.
2. Stabilization of runoff of excess water from inland.
3. Forage fish habitat in tidal estuaries, and source of nutrients fol, shellfish harvest.
4. Home of waterfowl and shorebirds with recreational value, and scientific habitat of flowers and animals.
5. Buffer for storm tides that damage houses and move rocks.

Recognizing these economic, recreational, historic, and scientific values conservation-minded citizens and organizations since 1957 have worked to create interest in conserving a part of the town’s natural resources, its salt marshes.

At 1962 Town Meeting it was voted to establish a committee of seven Conservation-minded citizens to study about acquiring "a portion (350 acres or more) of Hampton marshland; east of U.S. Rte. 1, to be preserved forever. in its natural state for wildlife and conservation purposes, under the protection of the U.S. Dept. of Interior (Fish and Game Wildlife Service) or similar state agencies."

S. Seavey, Jr., appointed the late Donald Dunbrack, Dr. Harold Pierson, Mrs. Richard Waters, Conservation Officer Floyd Potter, Mrs. Margaret Lawrence, Mr. Raymond Downer, and Miss Ruth G. Stimson, Chairman.

The Committee asked advice of all interested conservation organizations in the state in making its study, which was reported to the town’s people and officials. The conservation area selected lines between Tide Mill Creek, Hampton River, and the Boston and Maine Railroad right of way.

As of the 325th anniversary of Hampton the people who donated their salt marsh for "wildlife and conservation purposes" have their names recorded on a permanent marker near the Tide Mill Creek Bridge.

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