Title: Wicomico River Coastal Protection Project
Newest addition to the Deal Island Wildlife Management Area in Somerset County, Maryland. Photo by Dan Murphy, USFWS
Newest addition to the Deal Islsand Wildlife Management area in Somerset County, Maryland. Photo by Dan Murphy, USFWS

A key property in the Wicomico River Coastal Protection project has been protected. The 181 acre property includes a mix of estuarine and palustrine wetlands. The property is located in Somerset County, Maryland and is surrounded on three sides by Deal Island Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The wetlands will be added to the WMA.

Situated near the mouth of the Wicomico River at Tangier Sound on the Chesapeake Bay, the parcel will protect salt marsh, forested wetlands, and wetland-associated uplands.  Because of its large submerged aquatic vegetation beds, many relatively undeveloped islands, and large expanses of tidal emergent wetlands, Tangier Sound supports a large variety of waterfowl, such as the black duck, other migratory birds, and aquatic fauna.

Protection of this property will provide the following benefits:

  • Protection of breeding habitat for the internationally declining American black duck (Anas rubripes) and wintering habitat for numerous other migratory waterfowl including less commonly-seen species such as the widgeon, northern pintail and gadwall.
  • Protection of breeding, migrating, and wintering habitat for many coastal-dependent birds including the salt marsh sharp-tailed sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus), black rail (Laterallus jamaicensis), and sedge wren (Cistothorus palustris) and shorebirds including the American oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus), a species of high concern  
  • Protection of breeding, migration, and wintering habitat for numerous waterbirds including pied-billed grebe (Porphyrio podiceps podiceps), least tern (Sternula antillarum antillarum), least bittern (Ixobrycus exilis exilis), and American bittern (Botaurus lentigniosus),
  • Protection of significant nursery and foraging habitat for economically and ecologically important fish  such as striped bass (Morone saxitilis), American eel (Anguilla rostrata), Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), river herring (Alosa pseudoharengus and A. aestivalis), and American shad (A. sapidissima).
  • Improved water quality in the Wicomico River, Tangier Sound, and the Chesapeake Bay through the filtering of nutrients and sediments
Another view of the newly-acquired wetland at the Deal Island WMA. Photo by Dan Murphy, USFWS
Another view of the newly-acquired wetland at the Deal Island  WMA. Photo by Dan Murphy, USFWS

This habitat protection project was made possible by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program and funded by a National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant. Partners included the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, The Conservation Fund and Chesapeake Bay Field Office.

For more information contact:
Dan Murphy
Chesapeake Bay Field Office
410/573-4521
dan_murphy@fws.gov

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