The Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) project to use dredged material to restore a pair of vanishing islands off the coast of Dorchester County received a major boost this week with allocation of $37.5 million in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Supplemental FY 2022 Workplan.
The funding guarantees construction of the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration project, which will restore island habitat at James and Barren islands and help protect the Dorchester County shoreline from erosion, will begin in September 2022. The island sites will eventually replace Poplar Island in Talbot County as the state’s primary receiving site for bay channel dredged sediment.
“I can’t say enough about the incredible working relationship we have with the Army Corps of Engineers led by Lt. General Scott Spellmon, Chief of Engineers and Commanding General and Col. Estee Pinchasin, Commander of the Corps Baltimore District…Maryland is an international leader in the beneficial use of dredged material for coastal and island restoration. We are thinking ahead and planning for anticipated climate changes by strengthening our barrier islands,” said MDOT MPA Executive Director William P. Doyle.
According to a Maryland Port Administration press release:
Restoration around Barren Island will commence first – with construction beginning in September based on the USACE allocation. James Island construction is anticipated in 2024. Barren will accept sediment from nearby
shallow-draft channels. James Island will accommodate an estimated 90 million to 95 million cubic yards 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.
Anticipated benefits from the project include:
• Protection of 1,300 acres of seagrass beds from construction of stone sills and breakwaters surrounding Barren Island – which also will attract more fish, crabs and oysters;
• Rebuilding 130 acres of wetlands, forest, and beach habitat protection;
• Creation of two new bird nesting locations adding 8.5 acres of scare habitat for rare bird species;
• Restoration of 72 acres of remote island habitat supporting diverse wildlife including Diamondback Terrapins and Common Terns; and
• Enhancement of boating, fishing, and wildlife observation experiences