Building a Stronger Coast
Building Oyster Reefs to Protect Coastlines at Chincoteague

Helping hands assemble castles to create oyster reefs at Chincoteague NWR. Chelsi Burns/USFWS

May 10, 2016 - Volunteers and partners are helping build new oyster reefs at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to help protect the refuge from the impacts of climate change and future storms. The reefs are built from LEGO-like cement blocks assembled into castle structures that oyster spat (babies) cling to, creating a functional oyster reef that helps buffer wave energy. When finished, there will be an estimated 1,400 feet of living shoreline oyster reefs at Tom’s Cove and 2,050 feet in Assateague Bay – two sites that were battered by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. This work is part of larger efforts along the Atlantic Coast to make coastlines more resilient to the impacts of climate change and storms.

Read the press release
Read the blog
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Helping hands assemble castles to create oyster reefs at Chincoteague NWR.
Credit: Chelsi Burns/USFWS


Community Helps Re-Vegetate Hyde Pond Dam Site

Volunteers planting at the site of the former Hyde Pond dam. Credit: CFE/Save the Sound

May 7, 2016 - Dozens of volunteers came out on a rainy Saturday to help plant native vegetation along the banks of Mystic's Whitford Brook, which is now flowing freely for the first time in 350 years. Earlier this year the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined forces with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound to bring down Hyde Pond dam. The project re-opens 4.1 miles of stream to migratory fish and helps reduce the risk of flooding to the surrounding community.

Read the press release



Volunteers planting at the site of the former Hyde Pond dam.
Credit: CFE/Save the Sound


A Bridge to a More Resilient Future for Muddy Creek

Aerial view of Muddy Creek wetland restoration project. Credit: Town of Chatham

May 6, 2016 - For commuters and tourists driving Cape Cod’s Route 28 between Chatham and Harwich, construction of a new bridge was mostly just a traffic inconvenience. But, as the headline of a Cape Cod Times article says, the new bridge is actually an “environmental boon.”

The replacement of the bridge over Muddy Creek took five months and cost $6.5 million, of which $3.3 million came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hurricane Sandy funding through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013. On Thursday, May 5, local officials and project partners celebrated the completion of this project with an event at Jackknife Beach.

Before work began on Muddy Creek, the project site was a tidally-restricted estuary with degraded tidal marshes. By restoring 55 acres of mixed estuarine and subtidal wetlands, the project will enhance coastal natural defenses against storm surge. And the restored tidal flow will help improve water quality, flushing out contaminants like nitrogen and improving habitat for shellfish and fish. It will also reduce the need for wastewater treatment, potentially saving the towns millions of dollars.

Perhaps the largest undertaking within the project efforts was the removal of twin undersized stone culverts from the creek and replacing them with a 94-foot span bridge and open channel.

Removing the culverts and re-opening the tidal channel means that spawning American eel and alewife can now return -- species that are a food source for many other of the Cape’s commercial fish species.  In addition, recreational access between the creek and bay will now be possible for non-motorized vessels.

Read about Muddy Creek in the news:

Cape Cod Times
Cape Cod online


Aerial view of Muddy Creek wetland restoration project.
Credit: Town of Chatham


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Last updated: April 7, 2016