Building a Stronger Coast
Recovery, restoration & building coastal resilience
salt marsh at Prime Hook NWR

Results: What's Working?

With $167 million in funding from the Department of Interior following Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service set out to restore and rebuild coastal areas better than before. In partnership with other agencies and groups, the Service implemented more than 70 projects in areas damaged by Sandy.

What does a stronger coast look like?

It’s a coast where marshes act like sponges to absorb rising water – and provide habitat for birds, fish, and shellfish. Where undammed rivers help reduce flooding to nearby communities – and fish swim up from the ocean to historical spawning grounds. Where oyster reefs and other living shorelines buffer coastal zones from wave erosion – and create new habitat for marine life.

It’s a coast that will bounce back after big storm events. It’s a coast built to last over time.

Below are some stories of this success thus far. The work is still ongoing, and we will be monitoring results for many years to come.


river flowing through land

When Dams Come Down, Fish Come Back

Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey

Since 2013, the Service has used Hurricane Sandy resilience funds to remove 12 dams and improve fish passage at two other sites, re-opening more than 100 miles of river to migratory fish. With obstacles gone, the fish are returning to their old ways across the Northeast, often at the first opportunity. Read more


river flowing through land

Restored River Helps Residents and Migratory Fish

Taunton, Massachusetts

The removal of obsolete dams and creation of a fish ladder have allowed river herring to once again migrate up the Mill River to their historical spawning grounds. The river restoration also reduces the risk of flooding -- good news for a community threatened with dam failure in 2005. Read more


New channel at Maidford Marsh in Sachuest NWR. Credit: Ben Gaspar / USFWS

Improvements Help Refuge Weather the Storm

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, Rhode Island

When another severe storm struck the Rhode Island coast five years after Sandy, it was a much different scene at Sachuest Point NWR, thanks to increased resilience to heavy rain, strong winds, and storm surge. Read more


Pawcatuck River. Credit: Ayla Fox

Dam Removals Increase Access for Fish and Paddlers Alike

Pawcatuck River, Rhode Island

Restoration of the Pawcatuck River has led to increased numbers of migratory fish, more recreation opportunities, and reduced risk of flooding. Read more


Culverts in Maryland. Credit: Steve Droter

Science Assessment of Impact and Response

Maine to Virginia

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, scientists surveyed thousands of coastal marsh sites, beaches and road stream crossings in order to help communities understand how to strengthen these natural defenses against flooding and other storm impacts. Read more


Piping plover. Credit: Don Freiday/USFWS

A Dramatic Recovery Along the Delaware Coast

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Delaware

Beach and marsh restoration at Prime Hook NWR has produced incredible results in just two years, surprising even the refuge biologists. Results so far include the transformation of hundreds of acres of open water into healthy stands of salt marsh grasses and the first piping plover nests. Read more


Oyster castles at Chincoteague NWR.

Living Shoreline Helps Protect Coastal Areas

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

Installation of 13,750 oyster castles will help prevent erosion to salt marshes, which in turn help protect communities from flooding. The oyster reefs also provide habitat for other marine life and will grow on their own, hopefully keeping pace with rising sea levels. Read more


 Culvert construction at Wreck Pond. Credit: American Littoral Society

Restoration Project Withstands the Impacts of a Powerful Nor’easter

Wreck Pond, New Jersey

A new box culvert in the coastal community of Spring Lake is improving water quality and fish passage while reducing flood risk. A March 2017 storm brought high rainfall and storm surge, but Wreck Pond did not overflow into the surrounding neighborhood and no properties were damaged. Read more


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Infographic: Building a Stronger Coast

Thumbnail of Hurricane Sandy infographic


Hurricane Sandy Photos

Last updated: March 6, 2019