Building a Stronger Coast
E.B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge - USFWS.
Resilience shield

Restoring Coastal Marshes in National Wildlife Refuges

Location: New Jersey

Project type: Resilience

Funding awarded: $15,000,000


Draft Environmental Assessment on Forsythe pole removal for public review until February 12, 2016

Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge has announced the availability of a draft Environmental Assessment for public review and comment regarding proposed projects at Good Luck Point in Berkley Township and AT&T Manahawkin in Stafford Township. The Refuge proposes to remove large arrays of wooden poles and metal towers from two salt marsh tracts in Ocean County, NJ. The Environmental Assessment for the project is also available for review below. The public comment period for the EA will close on February 12, 2016.

Westecunk Creek Barrier removal project completed fall 2015

The Westecunk Creek Barrier Removal project was completed at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in the Township of Eagleswood, Ocean County, New Jersey. The $245,000 project, supported by federal funding from the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief Act, will improve fish passage for both resident and anadromous (migratory) fish and restore 13 km of upstream spawning and rearing habitat.

Project Summary

Increase protection of communities along 60 miles of coastal New Jersey by supporting and strengthening natural buffers. Restore and enhance salt marshes as critical natural defenses which support the communities, and protect the associated social, economic and recreational values of the New Jersey shore.

Conservation Goals

  • Mitigate the impacts of Hurricane Sandy and improve the strength of impacted salt marshes and other coastal habitats at the Edwin B. Forsythe and the Cape May National Wildlife Refuges
  • Improve natural defenses by enhancing or restoring marshes and implement living shoreline engineering techniques

Project Benefits

  • Restores and increases the strength of over 36,000 acres of tidal marsh on the Atlantic coast and the Delaware Bay in New Jersey
  • Restores 700 acres of salt marsh habitat on two abandoned communication sites by removing hundreds of unused telephone poles and wires
  • Restores approximately 13 km of fish passage by removing the Westecunk Creek barrier in Eagleswood, opening upstream spawning and rearing habitat for federal trust species such as alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) as well as nursery and maturation habitat for American eel (Anguilla rostrata)
  • Improves water quality and benefits ecotourism, recreation, ecological education and commercial fishing interests

Project Partners

  • New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)
  • Ocean County Highway Department
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
  • Atlantic, Burlington and Ocean County Mosquito Commissions
  • Barnegat Bay Partnership
  • Partnership for the Delaware Estuary
  • American Littoral Society
  • Trust for Public Land
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Office of Migratory Bird Management
  • University of Delaware
  • Rutgers University
  • Stockton College
  • Drexel University
  • University of Rhode Island
  • NatureServe
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Additional Details

Hurricane Sandy left many of New Jersey's coastal marshes starved of crucial sediment, and the project will deposit new, beneficial sediment dredged from nearby channels. Furthermore, it will restore a 1.3-mile dike to protect freshwater impoundments and transform it into a living shoreline, providing food resources and roost sites for thousands of waterbirds. Marsh restoration/enhancement will increase its protective value to coastal communities in future storms and improve water quality. As a working model, the project will continually inform integrated waterbird management and monitoring and strategic habitat conservation, and will offer multiple opportunities to students and veterans to engage in monitoring activities and planting of marsh grasses.

Project Pages for Locations Involved

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Coastal Marshes Project Map

Westecunk Creek Barrier Removal Photos

E.B. Forsythe NWR Damage Photos

Cape May NWR Damage Photos

Last updated: January 12, 2016