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Scarborough Marsh


Owned and managed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Scarborough Marsh Wildlife Management Area covers over 3,000 acres of tidal marsh, salt creeks, freshwater marsh and uplands. The protected area includes approximately 2,700 acres of salt marsh, four tidal rivers, several smaller streams, some coastal freshwater marsh, tidal flats, and about 200 acres of upland habitat. The Scarborough Marsh is the largest contiguous salt marsh in Maine. Salt marshes filter pollution from the water and provide food and shelter for numerous species of birds, fish, mammals, and shellfish. Additionally, the Scarborough Marsh in very important as a stopover ground for migrating passerines, shorebirds, wading birds, and waterfowl. The Scarborough Marsh is also one of Maine's premier birding hotspots, with thousands of birders visiting the site each year to glimpse rare and uncommon marsh birds. Given the wildlife productivity and habitat diversity in the Scarborough Marsh, it is arguably one the most significant coastal wetland habitats in Maine. Finally, the Scarborough Marsh is a regionally significant recreational destination. The Scarborough Marsh is valued and enjoyed by tens of thousands of people each year. The marsh supports a variety of human activities, including canoeing and kayaking, bird watching, clam digging and fishing for fun or for profit, and hunting. The open skies, grassy expanses, coastal vistas, and changing water levels appeal to many, and the play of light and shadow challenges painters and photographers alike. The Scarborough Marsh offers naturalists and schoolchildren an ideal "outdoor classroom."





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
  • Other Information

    The marsh and the adjacent uplands form a mosaic of 16 habitat types. The Maine Natural Areas Program (MNAP) has identified an exemplary salt-hay saltmarsh that covers most of the focus area and also a small area of exemplary pitch pine bog on the northwest side of the focus area. The Scarborough Beach area is included within the Focus Area. The beach has two exemplary natural community types: dune grassland and pitch pine dune woodland.


Flora and Fauna

  • Dominant flora

    Spartina spp, Phragmites communis, Salicornia sp, Distichlis spiccata, Juncus geradii, Rosa rugosa...
  • Unique flora

    Saltmarsh False-foxglove, Smooth Winterberry Holly, Beach Plum, Dwarf Glasswort
  • Dominant fauna

    deer, aves, muscrat, fox, coyote, raccoon, fish, shellfish, etc.
  • Rare fauna

    Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Common Moorhen, harlequin duck, least bittern, arctic tern, new england cottontail


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