Delaware Bay Estuary Project
Northeast Region

What We Do

delaware bay estuary

Delaware bayside. Photo courtesy of Michael Hogan

The Delaware Bay Estuary Project is part of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's National Coastal Program.  

The Coastal Program focuses the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts in bays, estuaries and watersheds around the U.S. coastline. The purpose of the Coastal Program is to work together with our partners to conserve fish and wildlife and their habitats. The Coastal Program integrates all Service activities in high priority coastal ecosystems to:

  • Identify the most important natural resource problems and solutions;
  • Influence the planning and decision-making processes of other agencies and organizations with the Service's living resource capabilities;
  • Implement solutions on-the-ground in partnership with others; and
  • Instill a stewardship ethic, and catalyze the public to help solve problems, change behaviors, and promote ecologically sound decisions.

The Delaware Bay contains some of the country’s most important migratory bird habitat. During fall and winter millions of birds, many juveniles, pass through this area on their southbound migration.  Tens of thousands of waterfowl can be found there feeding and resting. Each spring, the area hosts the second largest concentration of shorebirds in North America as birds migrating from South America to the Arctic stop to fuel up for the long journey north.

mixed flock of shorebirds


Delaware Bay Estuary Project is working with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, States, and other conservation organizations to:

  1. Support research efforts that increase our understanding of horseshoe crabs and shorebirds;
  2. Identify management actions that will help conserve shorebirds; and
  3. Monitor the populations over time.
desoi-stinger property
2006 Coastal Wetland Grant DeSoi-Stinger Property


Wetlands are critically important for wintering waterfowl.  Delaware Bay Estuary Project is working with many partners to conserve and restore important tidal and non-tidal wetlands by plugging ditches, restoring the appropriate land surface elevations, controlling invasive plants, restoring riparian buffers, and replanting with locally native plant species.


Migratory birds like hawks and songbirds depend upon healthy forests during their migratory stopovers.  Development has fragmented and reduced the forest cover drastically.  Delaware Bay Estuary Project is working with partners to conserve and restore “large, round" (contiguous forest containing signficatant interior habitat) forested patches, forested areas surrounding coastal plain ponds, and forested riparian habitat.  By overlaying our GIS (computer mapping) data with ownership information we can identify
the highest priority areas to work in.  GIS analysis also allows us to identify areas that make connections or add to patch size and shape in significant ways.

dam removal project
Dam removal project

Riparian Habitat and Fish Passage

Although the main stem of the Delaware is free flowing, hundreds of fish blockages and restrictions exist on the tributaries.  In addition, forest cover along streams has been greatly reduced, impairing the habitat for birds and fish and contributing to poor water quality.  The Delaware Bay Estuary Project is working with partners to restore riparian (stream bank) habitat and to identify fish passage projects on tributaries of the Delaware River.  This can include protecting habitat, planting native trees and shrubs, controlling invasive species, stream bank stabilization, and restoring hydrology.

Learn More About What We Do



Last updated: July 18, 2012

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