|Martha Rheinhardt loves being in the field.|
by Loryn Dion, Public Affairs Intern, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Martha Craig Rheinhardt feels energized knowing that she is able to go to work doing something that she loves. A long-time resident of Cape Cod, Martha is currently working as the Coastal Wetland Restoration Project Manager with the Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project, a collaborative project of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Cape Cod Conservation District, and the Barnstable County Commissioners, with cooperation from other federal, state and local agencies.
The project will restore salt marshes, recover fish passage and improve water quality for shellfish beds. The plan identifies 76 sites throughout Cape Cod for possible restoration including 26 stormwater discharge sites, 26 tidally-restricted salt marshes and 24 obstructed fish passages.
Martha is in charge of managing all salt marsh restoration projects. Her responsibilities include coordinating among all of the projects’ partners and sponsoring agencies, helping the projects stay on schedule and paying close attention to details to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. “This makes it easier to avoid potential problems before they happen,” says Martha.
Martha describes her work as her “perfect job.” She was working on the Cape as a wetland consultant and had heard a lot about the Cape Cod Water Resources Restoration Project. She knew wanted to help in some way. “I saw the job posting last summer and had multiple people forward me the ad, encouraging me to apply,” says Martha, adding that her work on the project is something she loves to do and it is very rewarding to her.
“When I was younger, growing up, in part, on the Cape, my parents and grandparents taught me to love and respect the water. After finishing graduate school in Virginia, I knew I wanted to come back to the Cape,” says Martha, who received her BA in Biology from Smith College before attending the Virginia Institute of Marine Science/College of William and Mary to achieve her MS in Marine Science with a concentration in Wetland Ecology and Coastal Resource Management.
The CCWRRP wrapped up its first project in early March, where the Town of Eastham removed an earthen berm and a culvert from the Sunken Meadow Marsh, part of which is a former cranberry bog, in Eastham, Mass. Martha was there to witness the results. “I got to see the tide flow to the new marsh over the area where the earthen berm used to be located. The tide was really high that day, so it was amazing to see,” says Martha.
Martha enjoys working on the project with people who share the same love for restoration and the Cape that she does. She also likes working with the public and seeing the positive impact of her work on the environment. “I just love being in the field.”