Conserving the Nature of America
Press Release
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore marsh at Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
Work to modify breakwater will improve natural marsh hydrology and increase shoreline protection

August 25, 2017

Contact(s):

Contact: Brian Braudis

609-463-0994, Ext. 2370

Brian_Braudis@fws.gov


Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. Credit: Terri Edwards/USFWS

Pennsville, N.J. -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin a marsh restoration project at Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge on August 28. The work will benefit wildlife while increasing shoreline protection. It is part of a $15-million project to restore marshes along 60 miles of coastal New Jersey, supported by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery and resilience projects.

The project will modify 1,500 linear feet of a stone breakwater to improve water flow and drainage in the marsh. Crews will use heavy equipment to reposition stone on the breakwater, opening the marsh to tidal exchange with the Delaware River in some places and reinforcing the structure in others.

Refuge Manager Brian Braudis said the result will be a marsh that functions more naturally. Tides will bring in more sediment, building the height of the marsh to help compensate for sea-level rise.

The marsh at Supawna Meadows is a brackish tidal marsh, where fresh and saltwater mix. It is important habitat for waterfowl, wading birds, shorebirds, and other wildlife. American black ducks, whose numbers are declining, rest and feed on the marsh.

Tidal marshes act as buffers for storm surge and sea-level rise, absorbing, then slowly releasing, waters that would otherwise cause flooding. The breakwater at Supawna Meadows reduces wave action along the shore.

“This project will benefit both wildlife and human communities,” noted Refuge Manager Brian Braudis. “With modifications, the breakwater at Supawna Meadows will continue to protect the shoreline, while supporting a naturally functioning, resilient brackish marsh.”

Partners in the project include Sovereign Environmental, Amec Foster Wheeler, Cape May County, Axis Geospatial, and Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. Work is expected to be done by October 2, 2017.

Established in 1974, Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge comprises roughly 3,000 acres of brackish tidal marsh, forested wetlands, and grassland along the Delaware River estuary just north of the Salem River. The estuary is designated a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. Learn more about the refuge at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/supawna_meadows/.


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