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)
Water quality improvement
Conservation Status and Threats
Conservation statusState Protection
Adjacent land useResidential - medium density
Approximate natural buffer width> 100 ft
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.
Approximate size (ha):1250
General wetland characterization:Coastal Open Fresh Water, Coastal Salt Meadow, Coastal Irregularly Flooded Salt Marsh, Coastal Regularly Flooded Salt Marsh
Adjacent water bod(ies)Stream, Tidal Systems
Approximate stream orderFirst (several; primary source - Nonesuch River)
Name of body of waterSaco Bay (Atlantic Ocean)
Glaciofluvial outwash and marine sediments
BuB Buxton silt loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes 67.0 4.7% DeA Deerfield loamy sand, 0 to 3 percent slopes 0.1 0.0% DeB Deerfield loamy sand, 3 to 8 percent slopes 11.3 0.8% EmB Elmwood fine sandy loam, 0 to 8 percent slopes 22.6 1.6% Gp Gravel pits 2.7 0.2% HlB Hinckley loamy sand, 3 to 8 percent slopes 15.3 1.1% HlC Hinckley loamy sand, 8 to 15 percent slopes 3.7 0.3% HlD Hinckley loamy sand, 15 to 25 percent slopes 1.6 0.1% HrB Hollis fine sandy loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes 0.9 0.1% HrC Hollis fine sandy loam, 8 to 15 percent slopes 2.5 0.2% HsB Hollis very rocky fine sandy loam, 3 to 8 percent slopes 5.6 0.4% HsC Hollis very rocky fine sandy loam, 8 to 20 percent slopes 0.6 0.0% Sn Scantic silt loam, 0 to 3 percent slopes 30.2 2.1% So Scarboro sandy loam 6.1 0.4% Sp Sebago mucky peat 2.4 0.2% SuC2 Suffield silt loam, 8 to 15 percent slopes, eroded 0.1 0.0% Tm Tidal marsh 962.8 67.7% W Water 285.8 20.1% WmB Windsor loamy sand, 0 to 8 percent slopes 0.5 0.0%
Flora and Fauna
Dominant floraSpartina spp, Phragmites communis, Salicornia sp, Distichlis spiccata, Juncus geradii, Rosa rugosa...
Unique floraSaltmarsh False-foxglove, Smooth Winterberry Holly, Beach Plum, Dwarf Glasswort
Dominant faunadeer, aves, muscrat, fox, coyote, raccoon, fish, shellfish, etc.
Rare faunaSaltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, Common Moorhen, harlequin duck, least bittern, arctic tern, new england cottontail