Numerous projects in the coastal bays seek to restore habitat lost or damaged at the hands of man. Habitat is the natural environment in which organisms live and habitat loss is a major threat in causing a species population to decline. Many concerned citizens in the coastal bays are attempting to show in a variety of ways that they can live in a better balance with the natural splendor of the coastal ecosystem.
Shoreline restoration: Citizens in Isle of Wight are protecting shoreline by creating. The citizens of Montego Bay have worked very hard to restore the natural shoreline around the jewel they call Walkers Pond. Living shorelines have been installed in a number of locations including Sunset Island, Gumpoint Road, Macky’s Bayside Bar and Grill in Ocean City and the Shell Mill boat ramp on the St. Martins River. Living shorelines is a shoreline management option that provides erosion control benefits, while also enhancing the natural shoreline habitat. Living shorelines are designed to allow for natural coastal processes to remain through the strategic placement of plants, stone, sand fill and other structural and organic materials. More are being planned with the help of Worcester County, MD Department of Natural Resources and MCBP as homeowners realize the habitat benefits and superior erosion control of marshes over stone walls.
Wetland restoration: MCBP has also acquired property that belonged to Perdue Farms in Showell. Drainage on the 80-acre site will be modified so that the area will be restored to a forested wetland which will provide quality habitat to a variety of turtles, frogs, toads, birds and mammals.
Salt marsh restoration: Salt marshes are common along coastal shorelines from Georgia to New England. Many of these marshes have been parallel ditched for mosquito control, and, to some extent, to facilitate hay farming. Although ditching of salt marshes has occurred since colonial times, most extensive ditching occurred during the 1930’s and 1940’s. Impacts of these ditching practices include lowered water table levels, drainage of marsh pools, and vegetation changes all of which affect habitats for insects, crustaceans, clams, fish and birds. Many believe that many of the ditched marshes actually produce more mosquitoes than unditched marshes. In an effort to restore the natural water circulation in local marshes, MD DNR, Ducks Unlimited and the Coastal Bays Program are using innovative techniques to improve habitat in the ditches at the EA Vaughn Wildlife Management Area. Ditches were plugged with earthen dams that will allow water to enter only at high tides yet water will remain in the ditches at low tide. This will encourage the growth of aquatic vegetation in the ditches as well as maintain fish and invertebrates. Vegetation, water quality and bird usage is currently being monitored to better understand how the marshes respond to the ditch plugging effort.
The Coastal Bays Program has plans for numerous additional projects that will protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat in and around the coastal bays. Like our past and ongoing projects, we hope local residents will continue to get their feet wet and hands dirty to protect our precious resources.