Building a Stronger Coast
A virtual visit to Great Dismal Swamp Refuge

New half-moon water control structures like the one shown here allow staff at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to manage water levels to rehydrate peat soils and reduce flooding of nearby communities.

January 29, 2020 - Last fall, a film crew from BBC’s The Travel Show visited Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to learn about its history and management. Refuge Manager Chris Lowie gave a tour of Lake Drummond and Washington Ditch, one of many channels dug to drain the swamp for commercial interests centuries ago.

Lowie showed how staff use water control structures to rewet the swamp, which lessens flood risk to nearby communities, dampens effects of wildfire and drought, and improves water quality for wildlife and people. A $3-million project funded by federal Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience money was completed in 2016, with 12 new structures built on the refuge.

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New half-moon water control structures like the one shown here allow staff at Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge to manage water levels to rehydrate peat soils and reduce flooding of nearby communities.
Credit: USFWS

Service joins partners in highlighting removal of Tel-Electric Dam in Pittsfield, Mass.

Dec. 11, 2019 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today joined Massachusetts state officials and representatives of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and City of Pittsfield, Mass., to highlight a $3.8 million collaborative effort to remove Tel-Electric Dam on the West Branch of the Housatonic River. 
Removing the dam will reconnect nearly five miles of upstream river habitat with the lower reach of the West Branch -- and, ultimately, the mainstem of the Housatonic River -- allowing fish and other aquatic species to move more freely in the watershed. Dam removal will improve water quality and repair natural river processes in the West Branch.
The dam was breached in November and work has begun on the cofferdam so the sediments contaminated with years of pollutants can be removed. The project, which is on track to be completed this spring, is partially funded by a $1.7-million Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant from the Department of the Interior, administered by NFWF.

News Release

Credit: Stephanie Zollshan/ Berkshire Eagle

Grants promote natural infrastructure projects that strengthen the coast

sunset over a marsh

November 26, 2019 - Three projects supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been awarded 2019 National Coastal Resilience Fund grants. Administered through a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), Shell, and TransRe, the Fund contributes to activities that use natural infrastructure to protect and strengthen coastal communities and improve fish and wildlife habitat.

Natural, or green infrastructure, boosts the coast’s defenses while providing fish and wildlife habitat. Examples are salt marshes, barrier beaches, and free-flowing rivers. Built, or gray, infrastructure, is often more expensive and reduces wildlife habitat and coastal resilience. Examples are dams, bulkheads, and seawalls.

  • New Jersey Department of Transportation received $2 million to enhance salt marsh at the Service’s Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge using dredged material. The added sediment will raise the height of the marsh, bolstering it against sea-level rise and erosion and restoring habitat for wildlife like the saltmarsh sparrow.
  • Friends of Herring River was granted $300,000 for permitting and final design of a project to restore 900 acres of degraded tidal marsh at the mouth of the Herring River in Wellfleet and Truro, Massachusetts. The project will be the largest of its kind undertaken in the Northeast. The Service is working with federal and state partners to develop a funding strategy for completing the work.
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management received $75,000 for preliminary site design for the second phase of the Quonochontaug Salt Pond restoration in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The project will add natural infrastructure to the existing built infrastructure at the nearly 50-acre site. The first phase of the project received funding from a U.S. Department of the Interior Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resilience Competitive Grant administered by NFWF and from the Service’s Coastal Program.

News Release

Salt marshes like this one at Parker River National Wildlife Refuge offer important wildlife habitat, buffer waves and wind, and absorb floodwaters, creating a stronger coast.
Credit: Steve Droter


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Last updated: March 10, 2020