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Barn Island


"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 and Threats

  • Conservation status

    State Protection
  • Adjacent land use

    Residential - medium density
  • Approximate natural buffer width

    > 100 ft


  • Approximate size (ha):

  • 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
  • Approximate stream order

  • Name of body of water

    Wequetequock River and Wequetequock Cove (west) and Little Narragansett Bay (south)
  • Surficial geology

    Glacial till and salt marsh deposits. 

  • Soils

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


Flora and Fauna

  • 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.
  • Rare fauna

    New England cottontail is listed priority species (state listing). Salt marsh sparrow.


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