The Sapowet Marsh is a 260 acre state-owned wildlife management area located in the town of Tiverton Rhode Island approximately 9 miles northeast of downtown Newport, and approximately 19.5 miles southeast of Providence. This IBA lies proximal to the Emily Reucker Wildlife Refuge which is owned by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI).

Ornithological Summary

The main ornithological significance of this site is its importance to Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow, of which a sizeable population was documented to occur in 1990 based upon transect sampling observations (Rick Enser - Personal Communication). Other salt marsh species of conservation concern that occur at the site include Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and Clapper Rail during the breeding season, and Northern Harrier and occasional Short-eared Owl during the winter.

Large concentrations of scaup occur along the coves of the Sakonnet River. American Black Ducks, American Wigeons, Gadwall, Hooded Mergansers, and other waterfowl occur within Sapowet Creek.

Bordering shrublands, wood lots, and hammocks support American Woodcock, Ring-necked Pheasant, and a multitude of migratory passerines during spring and fall migration.

Conservation Issues

Multiflora rose, autumn olive, and bittersweet grow on the property. As non native invasive plant species, they have the ability to out-compete native vegetation and form large monocultures, thereby impacting plant species and structural diversity.

Sea-level rise threatens the high marsh habitat zone due to more frequent flooding and floods of longer duration which can result in a greater number of Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed Sparrow nest failures.

Ownership

Roughly half this site is owned by the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and managed by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) Division of Fish and Wildlife as a wildlife management area for hunting. The northern portion of the IBA is owned by the Sudubon Society of Rhode Island. The remainder of the site is under private ownership 13.1% of which is subject to conservation easement.

Habitat

The Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area includes a 138-acre salt marsh, sandy areas, agricultural land and forest. A large tidal creek bisects the marsh, draining to the Sakonnet River, which is tidally influenced estuarine system at this location. Shrubland borders many areas of the salt marsh. Small wooded hammocks occur in the marsh, as do larger salt panne ponds. Portions of the tidal creek contain mud flats exposed at low tide. Protected land adjacent to the marsh includes former agricultural fields woodlots, and residences.

Land Use

The area is managed for hunting. American Woodcock, Ring-necked Pheasant and various waterfowl are the main species sought. Sapowet Creek is known locally to be productive for Striped Bass and Bluefish. The nearby Audubon Society of Rhode Island Emily Reuker Wildlife Refuge attracts birders to the area who frequent both sites. Kayakers often enter the tidal creek to explore the marsh.

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