Building a Stronger Coast
Preparing Coasts for the Next Big Storm

breakwater construction

March 3, 2016 - Are U.S. coastlines ready for the next big hurricane?

Restoration of natural systems and implementation of green infrastructure are two approaches that can help, said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regional scientist Rick Bennett in a recent interview on WNPR, Connecticut’s public radio station. “If we restore ecosystems, it will provide not only benefits for fish and wildlife resources, but it will also provide services to local communities, whether that be infrastructure protection, economic, recreational,” said Bennett.

Bennett spoke about work being done in the Northeast to make coastlines more resilient, such as efforts in New England to remove old, deteriorating dams as a means to improve flood protection for nearby communities and restore fish runs. He also highlighted a green infrastructure project at Glenn Martin National Wildlife Refuge near Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay, where FWS and partners are establishing “living shorelines” by installing rocks to protect 21,000 feet of shoreline and adding sand and grasses to protect marsh areas. While green infrastructure and restored natural systems can’t necessarily prevent all destruction, especially in a massive, catastrophic storm, Bennett notes these efforts can help mitigate the damage of storms by absorbing flood waters and waves.

Listen to the story (Rick Bennett appears at minute 42:47)

Surveying elevations on the Smith Island shoreline.
Credit: Matt Whitbeck/USFWS

Marsh restoration efforts under way at Rhode Island’s Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

Maidford Marsh at Sachuest Point NWR undergoing restoration

February 23, 2016 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy are teaming up to restore and strengthen salt marsh habitat at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge to better withstand impacts of sea-level rise and coastal storm surge. The project uses an innovative technique called "thin-layer deposition" to spread sand onto areas of the marsh that are too low. This technique has been successfully used in coastal areas in Delaware, Maryland and New York to restore marshes adversely affected by accelerated sea-level rise and coastal storm surge. The project is part of a larger $4.1 million effort supported by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery to restore coastal areas from Rhode Island to Southern Maine.

News release
Learn more about the project

Credit USFWS

Time lapse removal of White Rock dam in Connecticut and Rhode Island

White Rock Dam Removal - excavator on coffer dam

February 8, 2016 - The removal of the White Rock dam in Westerly, RI and Stonington, Conn., will open up almost 25 miles of the Pawcatuck River and associated wetlands for migrating fish such as American shad, alewife, blueback herring, American eel, and sea-run trout. The project, supported by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery, is part of a $1.98 million cooperative agreement between The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Learn more in TNC's time-lapse video (below), which shows how removing the dam will reduce local flooding and eliminate the risk of dam failure in future storms.

Watch the video
Learn more about the White Rock dam removal project

White Rock Dam Removal - excavator on coffer dam.
Credit: Scott Comings, The Nature Conservancy

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Last updated: April 7, 2016