Erosion of Local Creek Threatens Habitats and Properties

Noemi Farkas ’25
EE Staff Writer

Ash Creek’s erosion problem continues, putting the wildlife habitat at risk of becoming a bay.

Fairfield and Bridgeport are teaming up to help save Ash Creek from turning into a bay. Ash Creek borders the city of Bridgeport and the town of Fairfield. It serves as both a crucial wildlife habitat and a natural shellfish bed. It also serves as a habitat for migratory shorebirds who use this area as a place to eat and take a break from their long journey. Additionally, Ash Creek houses many plants, one of them being spartina, a plant that can only exist in the conditions that tidal wetlands provide. 

Ash Creek is currently experiencing an erosion problem. One of the main causes of this is the dredging of the channel to Fairfield’s Marina over the past few years, and the bringing of sand to Jennings Beach instead of putting it back on the sand split. The impact of major storms such as Hurricanes Sandy and Irene has also impacted Ash Creek. 

The loss of wetlands will lead to the loss of many habitats and the destruction of different plants, some of which can only exist on tidal wetlands.

 “There is tremendous biodiversity in tidal wetlands and it would cease to be a habitat for many species”, according to Gail Robinson, President of the Ash Creek Conservation Association. “Scientists predict that given the current erosion trend, we could lose the sand spit within 15 years (or perhaps sooner, if there is a large storm)”.

The loss of this sand split could lead to more of these tidal wetlands disappearing. Tidal wetlands are very important because they collect/absorb flooding, similar to a sponge. They absorb water from high tides and storms, and without them, homes that line the shoreline would be open to direct wave action. Experts believe that if Ash Creek disappears, then Great Marsh Island would follow. This would lead to more destruction of habitats, which would increase the risk of flooding for properties located in Black Rock and eastern Fairfield. Those properties with flat land and filled in wetlands would see a larger increase in flooding. 

“People do pay attention if their homes are in danger of being flooded, so we emphasize that part in our outreach efforts,” said Robinson. 

The Ash Creek Conservation Association had been trying to get the town of Fairfield and the city of Bridgeport to pay attention to the erosion issue. They have been trying to get the public’s attention by emphasizing the impact of flooding in hopes that it will encourage more people to get involved. 

This erosion is not only affecting Ash Creek but is also affecting local beaches. The erosion is leading to the loss of shoreline, which means that it is making our beaches smaller.

“Recently I actually have been noticing it getting the slightest bit smaller,” said Saanvi Reddy, a local freshman from the area who spends lots of her time at the beach.

Many other beaches and wetlands are also being affected by this same erosion. 

“We have lost 60 feet of shoreline on our barrier beach (St. Mary’s sand spit) and 27,000 square feet of land on Great Marsh Island due to erosion,” said Robinson. “Other wetland areas in Ash Creek are experiencing erosion as well”.

One thing being done to help stop the erosion of Ash Creek is the installation of plugs for the growing season, which would be in the months of October and November. Fairfield and Bridgeport have met to discuss additional ways to prevent erosion. The next step would be to try and develop a plan for the restoration of the tidal industry. Scientists are also planning on making a coastal study that would help determine more of the technical questions regarding Ash Creek, which could take up to a number of years.

There are many different ways that people can get involved. The Ash Creek Conservation Association’s website has many different ways that you can join and become more involved with Ash Creek. You can become a fan by signing up for email updates to stay informed and up to date about any news regarding Ash Creek. You can also sign up and join to become a member. Individual memberships begin at $10.00. People can also go to the website and donate to the Association. The website provides many different ways for the public to become as involved as possible.

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