Restoration Efforts in Delaware
Sustain, restore and conserve

Marsh Enhancement Unveiled
June 26, 2009

Restoration at Slough's Gut Marsh. DNREC photo.
Restoration at Slough's Gut Marsh. DNREC photo.

The newly enhanced Slough's Gut Marsh, located on the east side of the James Farm Ecological Preserve near Ocean View, Delaware, was unveiled today - a project that transformed 24-acres of eroded and degraded marsh into a healthy and productive ecosystem. The marsh is located on land owned by Sussex County and managed by the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays.

 This was the final step in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process to restore and compensate for environmental impacts resulting from a fuel oil release in 2000 at the Indian River Power Plant which damaged the marsh and shoreline near the plant.

Natural Resource Trustees - Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - were authorized to recover damages for injuries to natural resources resulting from the fuel oil release. At the time of the fuel oil release, the power plant was owned by Delmarva Power and Light Company. Slough's Gut Marsh at the James Farm Ecological Preserve site was identified as a compensatory project that would replace the resources.

 Innovative open marsh water management techniques were used to excavate soils so that disturbances to the marsh were minimized. The old mosquito control ditches were removed, and 26 mudflats and ponds and several tidal channels were dug to create a more natural flow of water into and out of the marsh.

 Where straight-line ditches once crossed the salt marsh, shallow tidal pools and sinuous channels now meander through the stands of salt marsh cordgrass.  Pools and tidal mudflats, typical of undisturbed coastal salt marshes, now provide feeding areas for wading birds, like herons and egrets, and habitat for flounder, striped bass and blue crabs.

Slough's Gut Marsh has already shown signs of recovery, with Spartina grass covering the marsh like a lush, green carpet. Marsh visitors climbed the observation platform to view the signs of recovery that, over time, will mature into a productive marsh ecosystem.

 The project also includes educational components including signs and literature that describe the restoration efforts and how the project will benefit the environment. Information on the project is posted on the kiosk at James Farm parking lot and on the Center for the Inland Bays website, www.inlandbays.org.

 For more information contact:
Sherry Krest
Chesapeake Bay Field Office
177 Admiral Cochrane Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
410/573-4525
Contact Info: Kathryn Reshetiloff, 410-573-4582, kathryn_reshetiloff@fws.gov

 

Talk on Horseshoe Crabs and Shorebirds Presented to Delaware Audiences

On April 13, Gregory Breese, of the Northeast Region's Delaware Bay Estuary Project, presented an overview of the horseshoe crab fishery and the link to shorebird populations to 15 members of Central Middle School Science Club,of Dover, Del.

On the following night, he presented a similar talk to 45 people as part of the Friends of Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge's evening lecture series.

Contact Info: Jennifer Lapis, (413) 253-8303, jennifer_lapis@fws.gov

Prime Hook Refuge Staff Monitor Delaware Bay Shorebird Populations

Staff and volunteers from the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge have been busy assisting the Delaware Shorebird Monitoring Program with banding of migrant shorebirds to monitor the health of these birds as they pass through the Delaware Bay. This program, in its seventh year, is a cooperative effort with partners from seven countries (USA, Canada, United Kingdom, Holland, Australia, Brazil and Argentina), the Service (Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Delaware Bay Estuary Program), U.S. Geologicay Survey, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (Division of Fish and Wildlife and Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve), five local environmental groups, and private individuals.

In particular, the project monitors red knot, ruddy turnstones, sanderlings and other shorebird species migrating through the Delaware Bay from Tierra del Fuego to their breeding grounds in the Arctic — over 8,700 miles. The birds are caught in cannon nets or mist nets and then fitted with metal bands and colored flags to indicate their capture in the Delaware Bay. Numerous other studies are conducted while the birds are in hand or after release, including re-sightings of the flags and radio monitoring of the birds' feeding patterns.

During their 14-day stay in Delaware Bay, these birds will nearly double their arrival weight, acquiring the energy for the final trip to the breeding grounds and for egg laying. The eggs of horseshoe crabs provide the majority of the high protein food source consumed by these birds during their brief stay on the bay shore.

Contact Info: Jennifer Lapis, (413) 253-8303, jennifer_lapis@fws.gov

Last updated: November 16, 2009