Through the Corps' Planning Assistance to States and Tribes authority, the Nahant Marsh Education Center (NMEC) has requested assistance from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rock Island District to update the master plan for the Nahant Marsh preserve and surrounding watershed. This process will allow the NMEC to be better positioned to move forward in further education and conservation for the Nahant Marsh preserve.
Nahant Marsh is a 305-acre preserve in southwest Davenport, Iowa, owned by the city of Davenport. The Nahant Marsh Education Center (NMEC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 2000, governed by the NMEC Board which directs conservation and restoration efforts and educational programming with support from Eastern Iowa Community Colleges.
The Nahant Marsh preserve is part of a larger, 513-acre wetland complex bordered by the Mississippi River, Interstate 280, and Highway 22 (click here to view map). It is one of the largest urban wetlands on the Upper Mississippi River and provides a unique natural ecosystem in an accessible setting. The preserve is comprised of marshy areas, mesic, wet and sand prairie, bottomland forest, a spring-fed quarry and its surrounding grounds.
In 1998, a master plan was created by an independent consulting firm in anticipation of the establishment of the NMEC, which included approximately 177 acres of the preserve at the time. Since then, Nahant Marsh has expanded to include 305 acres and negotiations are underway for acquisition of an additional 210 acres. A number of factors, including increased visitation at the Education Center and increased flooding in the preserve, has brought about a need for an updated Master Plan.
Nahant Marsh History
The land identified now as Nahant Marsh was once used as a sportsman’s club. After investigations showed that the marsh had high levels of lead, a group of agencies and organizations, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, River Action, Quad City Audubon Society, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, came together to save the marsh and biotic community. During the process, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the marsh a Superfund site and began to assist with cleanup of the lead. These efforts showed a great improvement to the plant and animal life in the area so it was decided to make the wetland a nature preserve. Since that time, ongoing projects and research, including water quality testing, turtle population monitoring and avian population studies, have guided Nahant Marsh’s management practices. Today, the mission of the NMEC is to protect, enhance, and restore the Nahant Marsh through education, research, and conservation.