Building a Stronger Coast
Recovery, restoration & building coastal resilience
Flooding at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge - USFWS.

Coastal Tidal Marsh / Barrier Beach Restoration

Resilience shield

Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Location: Delaware

Project type: Resilience

Project status: Complete

Funding awarded: $19,805,000


View video of restoration project

Marsh and beach restoration completed September 2016. Monitoring of wildlife, vegetation and water quality is ongoing with partners.

Project Summary

This project restores a highly damaged tidal marsh/barrier beach ecosystem covering about 4,000 acres of marsh within the former impounded wetland system on Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. This coastal wetland restoration improves the ability of the refuge marshes to withstand future storms and sea level rise. The project also provides natural and economic benefits to several adjacent and nearby communities in Delaware, such as enhanced natural storm barriers, improved wildlife habitat and increased tourism.

Learn more about marsh restoration at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Conservation Goals

  • Restore a resilient tidal marsh/barrier beach complex
  • Provide habitats for migratory birds and fish for future generations
  • Stabilize this habitat complex, providing storm surge protection and other enhanced natural protection for coastal communities directly connected to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Project Benefits

  • Enhances and supports a long stretch of barrier beach along the Delaware Bay, on and adjacent to Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge, through restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of back-barrier tidal marsh
  • Builds resiliency to storm events and climate change for much of the refuge and the surrounding communities by ensuring the persistence of the Delaware coastal barrier beach system
  • Provides habitat for horseshoe crabs and the shorebirds that depend on their eggs during the northern and southern migrations
  • Provides social benefits such as wildlife observation opportunities and sustained economic benefits of tourism

Project Partners

  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)
  • Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHA)
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • United States Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Sussex Bird Club
  • Ducks Unlimited
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Friends of Prime Hook
  • Delaware Nature Society

Additional Details

The refuge has national conservation significance as a designated Important Bird Area, a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network site, and is situated within a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. The marsh restoration design will be based on detailed scientific analysis of water level and salinity data and restoration success will be carefully monitored during implementation and beyond. The project site is also identified in the Army Corps of Engineers' Delaware Estuary Regional Sediment Management Plan as a potential site for beneficial use of dredged material for future maintenance of economically important transportation channels in the Delaware Bay estuary. This effort will comprise one of the largest coastal marsh restorations on the Atlantic coast.

Learn about other projects at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge

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Marsh & Beach Restoration Project Map

Prime Hook Marsh Restoration Video

Prime Hook Marsh Restoration Photos






Last updated: April 11, 2018