On the Wild Side!
E-Newsletter for the Chesapeake Bay Field Office


Living Shoreline Protects Fragile Eastern Neck Habitat

Aerial view of Hail Cove (lower left). Photo by Doug Forsell, USFWS.
Aerial view of Hail Cove. Photo by Doug Forsell, USFWS.

The Hail Cove Living Shoreline Project, at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County, Maryland, demonstrates an alternative to traditional shoreline protection revetment practices that nearly eliminate important shallow water habitat.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,286-acre stopover area for migratory and wintering waterfowl at the mouth of the Chester River on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Within Eastern Neck is Hail Cove which separates the Chester River and Hail Creek. Hail Cove is regarded as one of the five best waterfowl habitats in Maryland.

Aerial surveys over the past 10 years revealed the importance of protecting Hail Creek from damaging erosion due to prevailing winds. Protecting Hail Cove will preserve submerged aquatic vegetation that is so critical to migratory waterfowl. The living shoreline will also reduce shore erosion and create marsh and reef habitat for Chesapeake Bay wildlife such as blue crabs, diamondback terrapins, fish, oysters and mussels.

On August 12, 2009, President Obama signed an executive order, Chesapeake Bay Protection and Restoration that calls on the federal government to lead the effort to control pollution that flows into the Chesapeake Bay and protect wildlife habitats in the region.

It directs federal agencies to work with State and local government as well as the private sector and use their expertise to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Hail Cove shows how this collaboration can work to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay.

The Hail Cove project represents a collaborative effort between government agencies, non-profit organizations and the private sector to protect and enhance valuable resources. The work at the site is focused on the protection of these important resources for years to come.

Students from Rock Hall Elementary School plant marsh grass. Photo by Mary Konchar.
Students from Rock Hall Elementary school help plant marsh grass.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and the National Aquarium, with help from many funding partners, have been working together to restore the living shoreline of Hail Cove.

Earlier this summer, low profile headland breakwaters were constructed to reduce wave energy and sand was placed along the existing shoreline to provide an environment suitable for bay grasses and emergent plants. The restoration project was completed with planting of marsh grasses by volunteers and students from Rock Hall Elementary School. In addition, volunteers from Washington College Center for Environment and Society are restoring a nearby oyster reef.

Suzanne Barrett , refuge manager, and biologist Matt Whitbeck prepare oysters for seeding at Hail Cove. USFWS photo.
Suzanne Barrett, refuge manager, and biologist Matt Whitbeck prepare oysters for seeding at Hail Cove. Photo by Dave Sutherland.

The Hail Cove Project was the first project for the Maryland Corporate Wetlands Restoration Partnership.  The Vulcan Materials Company was instrumental in bridging the funding gap on the project construction by donating nearly fifty thousand dollars in rock materials for the headland breakwaters and oyster reef bedding material.  Other corporate donations of food and beverages for over 100 participants at a planting and education day were provided by Constellation Energy.  The onsite engineer and marine contractors were Sustainable Science Company LLC, Denton, MD and Shoreline Design LLC, Edgewater, MD.

List of partners include:  US Fish and Wildlife Service, David Southerland 410-573-4535 Suzanne Baird, 410-228-2692, extension 101  Maryland Department of Natural Resources Kristin Fleming, 410-260-8813 Donald Webster, 410-221-8838, extension 103  Ducks Unlimited Kurt Dyroff, 410=224=6620  Maryland CWRP Charlie Birney, 413-951-2000 Carla Logan, 410-787-5132  Vulcan Materials, Co. John Smack, 410-459-3598  National Aquarium Laura Bankey. 410-659-4207  Coastal America Katharine Dowell, 202-401-9923


Last updated: September 22, 2009