Making Good on an Oil Spill
E-Newsletter for the Chesapeake Bay Field Office


Large ditch plug. Photo by Al Rizzo, USFWS
Large ditch plug. Photo by Al Rizzo, USFWS

In 2000, fuel oil was released into the Indian River Estuary by the Indian River Power Plant (IRPP) owned at that time by Delmarva Power & Light Company (DP&L). Natural Resource Trustees - Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental (DNREC,) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - worked cooperatively with DP&L to assess the damages and develop a restoration plan.

Marsh enhancement at the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays’ (CIB) James Farm Ecological Preserve James Farm project site was proposed as compensation for the natural resources lost as a result of the spill.

Located in Ocean View, DE, the project is intended to return a more natural flow of water into the marsh by filling in mosquito control ditches and creating more natural meandering tidal creeks, mudflats and pools.

Dramatic steps were taken to restore the 24 acres of a saltmarsh that was ditched for back in the late-1930s. Where uniform-width, straight-line ditches once crossed the saltmarsh, shallow tidal pools and sinuous channels now meander through the stands of saltmarsh cordgrass.

Newly constructed channel. Photo by Al Rizzo, USFWS.
Newly constructed channel. Photo by Al Rizzo, USFWS

Linear ditches were replaced with a network of meandering tidal creeks, pools and tidal mudflats, which are typical of interior portions of undisturbed coastal salt marsh. The pools and channels will provide feeding areas for wading birds, like herons and egrets, and habitat for fish, crabs and other invertebrates,
Beyond the physical enhancements to the marshland, the project also includes educational components for the public such as signs that describe the restoration efforts and how this project will benefit the environment. Information and updates will be posted on the kiosk at the James Farm parking lot and on the CIB Web site.

For more information contact:
Sherry Krest

Willet at freshwater pond. Photo by Al Rizzo, USFWS.
Willet at freshwater pond. . Photo by Al Rizzo, USFWS


Last updated: September 22, 2009