Building a Stronger Coast
Building marsh muscle

a marsh with a arc of sediment shooting through the air

November 8, 2018 - Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, on Chesapeake Bay, protects one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands. In the last 80 years, however, more than 5,000 acres of the refuge’s marsh have turned to open water, due in part to sea level rise and sinking of the marsh.

Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the refuge received federal funding to spread sediment over 40 acres of marsh. This “thin-layer deposition” raises the marsh above the reach of tides and promotes root growth in plants, which also builds height.

Healthy coastal marshes serve as homes for wildlife and sponges during severe storms, soaking up destructive storm surge. Learn more about this project from refuge biologist Matt Whitbeck.

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Depositing Blackwater River sediment on the marsh to raise its elevation.
Credit: Dave Harp, Chesapeake Photos


In the News: Piping plover among Prime Hook success stories

Piping plover

September 7, 2018 - The Cape Gazette continues its coverage of the rapid ecological rebirth at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge as a result of a Hurricane Sandy-funded restoration and resilience project. In part 2, journalist Ron MacArthur explores how plants and wildlife are returning to the restored marshes and beach. One great success is the establishment of piping plovers, which have not been known to nest here since before the refuge was formed.

Read part 2 in the Cape Gazette



Piping plover at New Jersey's Cape May National Wildlife Refuge.
Credit: Don Freiday/USFWS


Preparing to protect habitat after storms

Piping plover with a chick on sandy beach

October 30, 2018 - Powerful storms like Hurricane Sandy can cause widespread destruction to human communities but sometimes have a silver lining for wildlife.

With funding from the Service for building coastal resilience after Sandy, Rutgers University and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey created a guide for identifying newly formed beach habitat after big storms. Birds like piping plover, American oystercatcher, least tern, and black skimmer will benefit.

Read More



Strong storms sometimes create new habitat for beach-nesting birds, such as piping plovers.
Credit: USFWS


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Last updated: November 15, 2018