Chesapeake Bay Nutria ERadication Project
Northeast Region


Habitat Restoration

Restored wetland at Monie Bay.
Photo of a restored wetland at Monie Bay.

Habitat conservation is a critical to address the loss of marsh habitat caused by the non-native nutria on the Delmarva Peninsula.  Nutria eat the roots and leaves of marsh plants, resulting in the loss of thousands of acres of marsh habitat.  Scientific studies show that damage to marsh and shallow water habitat results in declines of oyster, crab, fish and waterfowl.  This, in turn, translates into a loss of commercial and recreational revenue.

Damage to these essential habitats must be repaired to conserve the remaining fish and wildlife habitats and sustain commercial and recreational activities. The health of marsh habitats on the Delmarva Peninsula are being evaluated and prioritized for conservation efforts. Biologists from Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, federal agencies and non-government organizations are partnering with coastal engineers to use the newest scientific techniques for marsh restoration and protection. By restoring lost shallow water and marsh habitat, we will improve the economic returns from activities such as, fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing.

Wildlife Specialist Brian Vannieuwenhuyzen and his nutria dog Jasper probe the mud for a hiding nutria.
Image of Nutria damage
Protection is another part of habitat conservation. Federal, state, local, and non-governmental organization protect habitat through conservation easements and acquire property through a fee title component.  By combining the strengths of all partners we can conserve the wildlife and public use of the Delmarva Peninsula.  

Recently, the state of Maryland and federal partners leveraged over $10 million in partner funds to protect and restore almost 5,000 acres of priority fish and wildlife habitat on the Delmarva Peninsula. These priority areas were chosen to mitigate habitat losses from nutria and to plan for landward marsh migration caused by sea-level rise. These voluntary land acquisitions enhance existing wildlife corridors and add to public lands.

On May 12, 2009 President Barak Obama signed the Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration Executive Order, Order 15508, declaring the Chesapeake Bay as a National Treasure and requiring a renewed commitment from federal agencies to protect and restore the health, heritage, natural resources, and social and economic value of the Nation’s largest estuarine ecosystem and the natural sustainability of its watershed.

This executive order requires the Department of the Interior to work with other federal and state agencies to expand public access to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers from federal lands and conserve landscapes of the watershed.  This includes protecting an additional two million acres of priority lands for conservation and maintaining water quality; restoring 30,000 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands and enhancing 150,000 acres of degraded wetlands; and the establishing 300 new public access sites in the watershed. Habitat conservation efforts by Chesapeake Bay Nutria Project will help to meet the goals of the executive order.

Last updated: October 19, 2011