Chesapeake Bay Field Office
Northeast Region

 

Maryland Corporate Partnership Saves Waterfowl Habitat


The Hail Cove Living Shoreline Project on Maryland's Eastern Shore, in Kent County, demonstrates how an innovative shoreline project developed with corporate partners can protect and restore high priority habitats for waterfowl and submerged aquatic vegetation.  Due to the loss of the natural shoreline protection that historic oyster reefs used to provide, low profile headland breakwaters were constructed to protect the highest priority habitat at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in 2009.  A new design included placing sand within the rock breakwaters to create habitat and protect the newly created shoreline at the back of Hail Cove.  The sand for the new shoreline was placed along the eroded marsh bank to create habitat suitable for diamondback terrapin nesting, migratory shorebird feeding, and marsh grass restoration.

Figure 1. Aerial view of Hail Cove Living Shoreline Project (forefront) with Hail Creek in the background.  Photo by Doug Forsell, USFWS.
Figure 1. Aerial view of Hail Cove Living Shoreline Project (forefront) with Hail Creek in the background.  Photo by Doug Forsell, USFWS, CBFO, Coastal Program.

The aerial photograph (Figure 1) shows the fortified isthmus that separates Hail Cove in the foreground from Hail Creek in the background. Stone headland breakwaters were constructed for shoreline protection at the left and right points of Hail Cove and sand was placed along the isthmus at the back of Hail Cove to provide additional shoreline protection from erosion.  The isthmus separates 108 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation in the shallow and slow moving water of Hail Creek from Hail Cove and the faster water currents of the Chester River. 

Maryland shoreline surveys over the past decades have documented the critical need to protect the waterfowl habitat in Hail Creek from rising sea-level and the damaging erosion from storm winds coming off the river. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is a stopover and wintering area for thousands of waterfowl feeding in the Chester River, and Hail Creek is regarded as one of the top five waterfowl habitats in Maryland. Waterfowl surveys conducted by state and federal partners with assistance from the Friends of Eastern Neck have documented an abundance of scaup, bufflehead and Canada geese in 2009.  A break in this critical land connection would jeopardize 350 acres of refuge wetlands.    

Mike Hardesty from Washington College, Center for Environment and Society (left) and Suzanne Baird, refuge manager, and biologist Matt Whitbeck prepare oysters grown by Washington College for seeding at Hail Cove. Photo by Mary Konchar (left) and David Sutherland, USFWS (right).
Mike Hardesty from Washington College, Center for Environment and Society (left) and Suzanne Baird, refuge manager, and biologist Matt Whitbeck prepare oysters grown by Washington College for seeding at Hail Cove. Photo by Mary Konchar (left) and David Sutherland, USFWS, CBFO, Coastal Program (right).

Another component to the project included building reef habitat to jumpstart the shallow water ecosystem (3 feet Mean Low Water). In a link below to the project design plans, sheet 3 shows in blue an arc of stone placed between the breakwaters that extend vertically 1-3 feet off the bottom.  The reef will provide habitat for mussels and American eel that are important food sources for diving ducks and striped bass.  The reef was also seeded with twenty bushels of adult oysters that were grown by students at Washington College with funding from the Friends of Eastern Neck.  These oysters are serving as a pilot study for a 2.5 acre restoration project to start as early as 2010.

The shoreline project was planted with marsh grasses by representatives from the National Aquarium, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Vulcan Materials, Coastal America, The Brick Companies and Integral Consulting.  On the right are students from Rock Hall Elementary School. Photos by Mary Konchar.
The shoreline project was planted with marsh grasses by representatives from the National Aquarium, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Vulcan Materials, Coastal America, Brick Company and Integral Consulting.  On the right are students from Rock Hall Elementary School. Photos by Mary Konchar.

 

The Hail Cove Project represents a strong partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, non-profit organizations and corporate sponsors to protect priority waterfowl habitats. The generous support of public and private partners was solely responsible for timely completion of the project in less than two years.  The Hail Cove Project was the first project for the Maryland Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership that is lead by the The Brick Companies.  One of the charter members, Vulcan Materials Company, was instrumental in bridging the funding gap for the project by donating nearly $50,000 in rock materials for the headland breakwaters and oyster reef bedding material.  Another corporate partner, Constellation Energy provided food and beverages for a planting and education day that was attended by over 100 participants. The company also provided $5000 in cash with a potential for an additional $10,000 as match to encourage new Maryland Corporate Wetland Restoration Partners.  Other partners included engineering from Sustainable Science LLC, Denton, MD and the marine contracting from Shoreline Design LLC, Edgewater, MD. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Aquarium lead the partnership of 20 organizations (list below). The other funding partners were the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Chesapeake Bay Trust, FishAmerica Foundation, Chesapeake Marshlands Refuge Complex, Chesapeake Bay Field Office Coastal Program and funds from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

llist of partners
 

Project plans can be found here.
Hail Cove Living Shoreline Final Plans

Partners


Chesapeake Bay Trust
  Keith Campbell Foundation
  MD Department of the Environment
  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Coastal America

Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership
  Constellation Energy
  The Brick Companies
  Vulcan Materials Company

Ducks Unlimited

FishAmerica Foundation

 

MD Department of Natural Resources

  Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Program

 

  Watershed Restoration Division

 

MD ES Resource Conservation and Development Council

National Aquarium

North American Wetland Conservation Act

Shoreline Design LLC

Sustainable Science, LLC

 

US Fish and Wildlife Service

  CB Marshland NWR Complex

  CB Field Office, Coastal Program

 

 

 

Washington College, Center for Environment and Society

Last updated: January 6, 2011