A pair of endangered islands off the coast of Dorchester County, Maryland needs to be restored using dredged sediment.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) FY 2022 Supplemental Work Plan Allocates $37.5 Million in Funding That Secures Construction of the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration Project .
The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) project will use dredged material to restore island habitat on James and Barren Islands and help protect the Dorchester County coastline from erosion.
The project will begin in September 2022 and the island sites will eventually replace Poplar Island in Talbot County as the state’s primary receiving site for dredged Bay Channel sediments.
The larger of the two, James Island, will see its 2,072 acres restored, of which 55% will be preserved as wetland habitat and 45% as upland habitat. At Barren Island, 72 acres will be restored to wetlands and the project will also include the installation of breakwaters to protect the remnants of the island and adjacent seagrass beds.
“Using dredged material to rebuild islands and create wildlife habitat shows that our team at the port is focused not only on growing Maryland’s economy, but also on maintaining an exceptional level of stewardship. environment,” said MDOT Secretary James Ports Jr. – Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration is the latest example of our tremendous partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In James and Barren Islands, this project will encourage wildlife, protect shorelines and restore some of the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay.
Restoration around Barren Island will begin first, with construction beginning in September based on the USACE allocation. James Island is scheduled for construction in 2024. Barren will accept sediment from nearby shallow draft canals. James Island will host approximately 90 to 95 million cubic meters of dredged sediment, providing at least 30 years of capacity. USACE will turn the project over to the state when the habitat development is complete.
The Mid-Bay Project will eventually replace the Paul S. Sarbanes Poplar Island Environmental Restoration Project, which has been Maryland’s primary site for the reuse of sediment dredged from the Baltimore Harbor shipping channels. Construction of Poplar’s final expansion, which added four new wetland cells and one upland cell, was completed last year. The expansion added 575 acres and a capacity of 28 million cubic yards of material. Poplar will continue to receive dredged sediment until 2032, when Mid-Bay will begin receiving this sediment.
“Maryland is an international leader in the beneficial use of dredged material for coastal and island restoration,” said William Doyle, executive director of MDOT MPA. “We anticipate and plan for anticipated climate changes by strengthening our barrier islands.”
The water resources investment is among the $14 billion paid to USACE on Wednesday, largely from additional funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to fund studies and civil works projects. The work plan also includes funding for other Maryland projects: $2.1 million for dredging and surveys at Herring Bay and Rockhold Creek in Anne Arundel County; $2.4 million for Northeast River dredging and surveying in Cecil County; and $50,000 for engineers’ surveys for Slaughter Creek in Dorchester County.