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Barn Island

Barn Island




Listed on more than one “valuable wetland” list by natural resource agencies or nongovernment organizations.

Protects biological diverse wetland flora, fauna and/or their habitat

Supports significant numbers of wetland-dependent fauna, such as water birds or fish

"Barn Island is the largest and single most ecologically diverse coastal Wildlife Management Area in Connecticut. With over 60 years of continuous wetland research at this site, Barn Island provides a rare window into long-term marsh development both before and after restoration efforts. Its 1,024 acres are marked by centuries of cultural and biological history, once a vital resource for early colonial settlers and Native Americans and now for scientists and outdoorsmen. Its diverse habitats support rare plants and animals which add to its rich ecological resource base. Barn Island’s sprawling landscape sustains a wide variety of ecosystems and recreational activities; it consists of salt and brackish marshes, one of the state’s largest coastal forests, hilly uplands, intertidal flats, sandy beach, and a rare sea-level fen." Long Island Sound Study (website accessed 5/19/16:

Exemplary Ecosystem Services:

Maintains ecological connectivity/cohesion

Aesthetic/cultural heritage value/ provisioning

Recreation (birdwatching, ecotourism)

Storm abatement

Flood storage/mitigation

Carbon storage

Water quality improvement



Conservation status: State/Province/Regional Protection

Adjacent Land Use: Residential - medium density

Approximate natural buffer width:

> 100 ft


General wetland characterization:

Inland Fresh Wooded Swamp

Coastal Salt Meadow

Coastal Regularly Flooded Salt Marsh

Coastal Saline Sound/Bay

Adjacent Water Bod(ies):

Tidal Systems

Name of body of water: Wequetequock River and Wequetequock Cove (west) and Little Narragansett Bay (south)

Surficial Geology:

Glacial till and salt marsh deposits.


Charlton-Chatfield complex, Pawcatuck mucky peat, Westbrook mucky peat, Paxton and Montauk fine sandy loam, and many others


Dominant flora: Swithgrass, spike rush, smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow cordgrass, blackgrass, common reed, narrowleaf cattail, eel grass, Northern marsh elder, American beachgrass, red maple, red and black oak, Northern spicebush, black gum, highbush blueberry.

Unique flora: Interesting interface between black gum, switch grass and black grass.

Dominant fauna: Heron, Ibis, Osprey, rails, terns, plover, egret, bittern, sparrow, spotted turtle and many land mammals. Extensive list of birds and other fauna available via Audubon Society website and Management Assessment Report.


Management Assessment Report Barn Island Wildlife Management Area

Audubon – Bird Areas

Tidal Wetland Restoration in Connecticut

Looking Sharp: Students, Salt Marshes, and that Elusive Sparrow


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