Rumney Marsh is a 1,700 acre salt marsh located just North of Boston. It is a jewel set in the densely populated urban neighborhoods of Saugus and North Revere, Massachusetts. Rumney Marsh is a remnant of an expansive salt marsh and barrier beach system long lost to development. Rumney Marsh has been designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern, ACEC requiring special protection and management. The ACEC program is responsible for coordinating state agency actions to preserve, restore and enhance resources of the ACEC. The Mosquito Control and Wetlands Management District is a member of the ACEC Advisory Committee and insures mosquito control interest are represented. The marsh is also designated an outstanding resource water, deserving the highest level of protection under Massachusetts water quality standards. Rumney Marsh has a long and colorful history. It is rumored the story of Swamp Fox, a colonial patriot of the American revolution as depicted by Disney was based on events that took place in and around the Rumney Marsh. A horse race track with a four story hotel and grandstand attracted the affluent and gamblers from 1870 to 1905. From 1905 the site was used for fairs and circuses.
From 1912 to the 1920's the area was used as an airfield boasting a 400 foot runway. In 1932 the track reopened for auto racing and finally closed in 1933. Since then the property has had various owners until 1990 when it was given to the Metropolitan District Commission. During the 90's the Mosquito Control District completed several OMWM and restoration projects on the marsh consisting mostly of restoring previously ditched areas and salt pans. While there are still numerous opportunities for restoration projects, from the mosquito control perspective the Park Avenue Restoration project is the last in a series of restoration projects completed over the past ten years. The Park Avenue Site was randomly filled. There is much speculation of the source and content of the fill. The site has been referred to as the fly ash site because it is believed fly ash was dumped there in the 1970's from an unknown site. After speaking to old timers in the neighborhood I believe the site was once a brick yard, where workers would clean bricks of mortar and dump it in random piles throughout the marsh. On-site conditions seem to support this.
In years past it was not uncommon to receive 40 complaint calls a day from residents of North Revere and Bakers Hills in Saugus. The traditional response was to adulticide. The area is too large to larvicide by hand, aerial larvicide applications were logistically difficult and therefore impractical.
The District focused on a long term solution of the problems associated with the Rumney Marsh. OMWM techniques were applied to restore degraded salt marsh. Section by section the District has completed multiple OMWM/Restoration projects on Rumney Marsh. As a result the remaining breeding areas may be managed by hand larviciding. Rarely is there a need for adulticide applications.
Wading shore bird and waterfowl habitat has been dramatically enhanced or restored. Public interest and support for preserving and protecting this marsh with mosquito control as a major component has increased. All of the work completed to date has been done in Partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Wildlife Program and while there are many more restoration opportunities in Rumney Marsh the Park Avenue Restoration Project was the last major piece to complete this mosquito control strategy. Because of the magnitude of the fill removal on the Park Avenue Project the District solicited additional financial and in-kind service assistance. The project is a partnership of the Massachusetts Wetlands Restoration and Banking Program which secured funding and helped with coordination. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners in Wildlife Program provided per acre cost share. The Metropolitan District Commission provided in-kind service and off site disposal of the fill material.
The first phase of operations was site preparation. The access road had to be upgraded to handle equipment and trucking of material from the site. Three hundred tons of gravel was trucked in and graded. A tidal cut was excavated and two thirty six inch culvert pipes were installed. Phragmites were flail-mowed to provide safe and efficient operation of equipment. An additional access road was constructed using existing fill material and two more culverts were installed. This access road connected piles of fill material together so the fill could be excavated and removed over the access road rather then across the marsh. Fill removal began at the furthest point out on the marsh and continued backing our way out. The material proved to be difficult to operate equipment in and the front end loader we hoped would transport the excavated material to the designated stock pile areas was of limited use. Our Kassbohrer Piston Bully was used to doze material to a point where the front end loader could operate. Low-ground pressure excavators were used to consolidate smaller isolated piles on the marsh into the larger piles connected by access road. Two weeks of rain in May made this process even more difficult and operations had to be suspended to allow the area to dry out. Ultimately the process became one of leapfrogging pile to pile with two excavators and backing our way out of the fill areas. This was a long and tedious process. Mike Morrison of "SWAMP" was kind enough to supply the project with a Posi-Track unit and operator for a couple of weeks to assist in spoil removal.
Excavated material was deposited in two designated stockpile areas for off site removal by the MDC. Salt pans or ponds were sculptured to conform to the foot print of each fill pile. Beginning at marsh grade and sloping down to a three foot deep reservoir. Finish work on the habitat ponds was done with The District's Smalley 808D excavator. A ditch around the upland perimeter of the site was excavated to divert fresh water sheet flow, connect drains and circulate tidal ebb and flow. In total we removed 9,000 cubic yards of fill from this marsh. Project cost was $70,000. The MDC has yet to remove the stockpiles and we have some minor finish work to be done after the site is monitored during the summer of 1999. In retrospect better coordination should be considered when more then one agency is responsible for actual on site work. In the future more consideration will be given to the type of fill material on site, in term of operating conditions for equipment. A long reach excavator would have been better suited for this project.