Virginia Ecological Services
Northeast Region

Southern Tip Ecological Partnership, Phase III

The Southern Tip Ecological Partnership, Phase III (STEP 3) is focused on protecting and restoring migratory bird habitat on the Eastern Shore located close to the shorelines of the Chesapeake Bay and seaside coastal bays.  The objective is to increase the availability, quality, and security of migratory bird habitat by protecting 772 acres and restoring another 423 acres of habitat.  For most projects, design and implementation duties will be shared between The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.  While TNC will take the lead in communicating with landowners, designing projects, purchasing materials, managing contracts and overseeing all projects, partner agencies may assist in design or implementation on specific projects. Ducks Unlimited will provide design and construction oversight on two wetland restoration projects.

The project area contains some of the most valuable estuarine and coastal habitats found anywhere on the Atlantic Coast. Land acquisition will ensure the long-term protection of over 400 acres of estuarine and saltmarsh wetlands and over 370 acres of wetland buffers.  These habitats will provide breeding, wintering, or migratory habitat for high priority bird species.  The large majority (92%) of wetlands associated with the proposal are declining habitat types, mostly palustrine forest and estuarine emergent wetlands.  The acquisitions and restorations will also protect water quality, promote submerged aquatic vegetation growth, and reduce human disturbance in these important habitats. 

Overbiew Map of the STEP 3 project locations

Some of the birds that will benefit include:

Bald eagle Lesser scaup American wigeon
Peregrine falcon Greater scaup Bufflehead  
American oystercatcher Snow geese Goldeneye  
Whimbrel Atlantic brant Turkey  
Upland sandpiper Canada geese Quail  
Salt-marsh sharptailed sparrow    Green-winged teal            Hooded merganser  
Woodthrush Ruddy duck Red-breasted merganser   
Acadian flycatcher Gadwall Tundra swan  
Marsh wren Blue-winged teal Prairie warbler  
Snowy egret Wood duck White-eyed vireo  
Black duck Redhead Yellow-breasted chat  
Mallard Canvasback Willet  
Northern pintail Ring-necked duck Glossy ibis

Aerial photograph of bird habitat on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
Aerial view of a STEP 3 habitat restoration site at Mutton Hunk Fen Natural Area Preserve Photo Credit: The Nature Conservancy

Completed projects will benefit the public by improving the quality and quantity of surface and groundwater supplies (a growing concern for communities on the Eastern Shore) and by protecting and restoring habitats important to wildlife, including game and non-game species.  Facing recent development pressure, local privately owned tracts will be protected from incompatible development and remain secure as valuable and scenic open space.  Undeveloped open space, healthy forests, waters, and natural areas provide a requisite setting for a long-cherished way of life and provide for a resource and tourism based local economy. 


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Partners for FWS


Focal Areas

Who Qualifies

Copper Creek

Lake Tecumseh

Longleaf Pine

Power Dam

South Martha Washington Wetlands

Southern Tip Ecological Partnership, Phase III

Veterans Memorial Park Dam

Completed Projects

Our Partners

Contact Us

Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated: December 6, 2012
All images by FWS unless otherwise noted.