Hurricane Sandy Recovery
Recovery, restoration & building coastal resilience
Lesser yellowlegs at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge tidal marsh - USFWS
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Resilience of the Tidal Marsh Bird Community to Hurricane Sandy and Assessment of Restoration Efforts

Location: CT, DE, MD, MA, NJ, NY, RI, VA

Project type: Resilience

Funding awarded: $1,573,950

Project Summary

This project will provide a thorough understanding of the effects of Hurricane Sandy on tidal marshes and the wildlife they support to direct remediation funds where they will have the greatest efficacy.

Conservation Goals

  • Assess damage to tidal marshes across the full gradient of Hurricane Sandy impacts
  • Prioritize tidal marsh sites across the region in most need of long-term restoration
  • Quantify the effectiveness of tidal marsh restoration projects using standardized protocols
  • Develop a standardized multi-metric tool to quantify the conservation value of tidal marshes based on their natural resilience to disturbance, and their ability to provide ecosystem services and support wildlife.

Project Benefits

  • Definitively establishes priority sites for restoration
  • Provides high confidence for future investments in marsh restoration and wildlife conservation efforts

Project Partners

  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program (SHARP)
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Maine
  • University of Delaware
  • University of New Hampshire
  • State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF)
  • The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
  • New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)
  • Maryland Department of Natural Resources (MD-DNR)
  • New Jersey Audubon
  • Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CTDEEP)
  • Town of Hempstead, N.Y.
  • Town of Babylon, N.Y.
  • Massachusetts Audubon

Additional Details

Local and severe alteration of individual marshes from Hurricane Sandy is apparent, but the extent of the damage across thousands of hectares of marsh habitat within the storm's path and the impacts on wildlife remain unknown. Many bird species of conservation concern breed in tidal marshes (American black duck, clapper, king and black rails, willet, seaside, Nelson's and salt marsh sparrows), and as such already face increased threats from sea level rise. Understanding plant community and bird responses to this extreme storm will ensure that immediate action can be directed to areas that will benefit most, planned restoration can adopt an adaptive management approach that is data-driven and scientifically rigorous, and conservation priorities for increasing resource resilience for an increasingly stormy future can be developed.

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Barn Island WMA Tidal Marsh Bird Project

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Last updated: November 4, 2016