Submitted to Dorchester Banner/NCCOS Swan Island after dredge application and planting, 2019.

Maryland: US restores Swan Island using dredge material

CAMBRIDGE — An island in Somerset County, just south of Dorchester, has been restored in large part by the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), using dredge material. Once in danger of being washed away, the island now has restored land and habitat.

The restoration of Swan Island, part of Martin National Wildlife Refuge on Smith Island, began in the fall of 2018 when the USACE placed roughly 70,000 cubic yards of material dredged from navigation channels on the island.

“This restoration was designed to restore habitat lost to shoreline erosion, recreating tidal marsh and dune habitats, as well as buffer navigation channels and the town of Ewell from the wave energy of the open Chesapeake Bay,” a statement from Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge said last week. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with the USACE, Maryland DNR, and the refuge, is leading an effort to monitor the outcomes of this restoration.”

NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science released a statement saying, “Coastal islands and marshes in the Chesapeake Bay are disappearing, along with the ecosystem services and shoreline protection benefits they provide. Within the last half century, the cumulative effects of shoreline erosion, land subsidence, inadequate sediment supply, and sea level rise have accelerated the rate of island submergence.”

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