Nahant Marsh is a 265-acre preserve nestled in southwest Davenport. It is part of a 513-acre wetland complex that is bordered by the Mississippi River, Interstate 280, and Highway 22.
Most people in the Quad Cities have passed the Nahant Marsh without realizing it. If you’ve driven over the I-280 bridge, then you’ve seen the wetland! The marsh area encompasses different wetland community types including bottomland forest, open-water habitat, and a marsh–all surrounded by suburban, industrial, and agricultural land. Where did the “Nahant” name come from? No one knows for sure, but it could be that settlers to the area named it after a saltwater marsh town called Nahant, Massachusetts. Or it could be that the word means “land between the waters” in a Native American language.
Not long ago, Nahant Marsh was in danger; some of its wildlife and plant life were dying or deformed. After years of being used as a sportsman’s club, investigations showed that the Marsh had high levels of lead. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, River Action, Quad City Audubon Society and Iowa DNR came together to try to save the Marsh and conserve its biotic community. The EPA declared the Marsh a Superfund Site and began an extensive cleanup of the lead. After the cleanup, wildlife and plant life showed a vast improvement. So much so that it was decided to make the wetland a nature preserve; thus the birth of what it is today. This continuing effort is a real-life illustration of stakeholder participation, environmental cleanup actions, and rejuvenation. The Nahant Marsh Education Center was formed to educate the public about this local ecosystem. To learn more about the history of Nahant Marsh, purchase the documentary “Resurrecting the Wetlands: The Story of Nahant Marsh”.
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