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Author Topic: Saltern Wetlands  (Read 7242 times)
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« on: May 31, 2014, 07:42:08 am »

Saltern Wetlands refers to the area of land on the northern bank of Greatham Creek to the left of the A178 when heading from the road bridge to ConocoPhillips tank farm. It extends to 50ha and is a managed realignment scheme undertaken by the Environment Agency. Managed realignment is an expression used to describe where seawalls are deliberately breached to allow new intertidal habitat to re-establish behind them. Salterns are the mounds that appear in the North-Tees marshes and were created from remains of fires built up over hundreds of years during the Medieval period. These fire piles were used to heat seawater from the marsh in vessels and convert it to salt ... a very valuable commodity in those times. There are several of these salterns within the site and hence the name.
The EA have been working for 2 years on the site to engineer the new wetlands. The breaches in the seawall were completed on Thursday 22nd May and the site is now inundating on flood tides. The site is split into 3 areas; an intertidal area of about 20ha with mud, saltmarsh and saline pools; an intermediate wet grassland area with freshwater pools; and a higher area of freshwater pools and scrub. Active management will only take place in the intermediate area where there will be seasonal cattle grazing.  The footpath, that used to follow the old seawall, now follows the new one which skirts around the ConocoPhillips tank farm from where there are good views of the site. We are in negotiations with EA to take a long lease on the site that will become part of the Saltholme reserve. We have no plans to construct hides or viewing screens, the site will be more of a wild, wilderness experience.
I am hopeful that the lease will be ready to sign in September this year and from when Saltern Wetlands will formally form part of the Saltholme reserve.
The One Show were out earlier this week and presenter Mike Dilger was recording a piece about the site and the habitat creation works there. We don`t know yet when the item will be broadcast.
You can now access the site along the new footpath and it is important for many reasons that visitors do not stray from this route.
Exciting news and this will be a great addition to the Saltholme experience.
David Braithwaite
Site Manager
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