The Poplar Island Environmental Restoration Project has been awarded the Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Located in Talbot County, Poplar Island is one of Maryland’s top environmental restoration projects built with dredged material from shipping channels leading to the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore.
“Together with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers we created a sustainable approach to keep the shipping channels safe and navigable while restoring the environment and providing opportunities to observe wildlife in its natural setting within the Chesapeake Bay,” said Maryland Port Administration (MPA) Deputy Executive Director Kathy Broadwater.
The award recognizes the Poplar Island Project’s innovation. The project combines traditional design and construction such as dikes, dredging and grading with techniques for constructing wetlands to create productive intertidal wetlands and upland habitat.
“The Poplar Island restoration project is a stellar example of what can be accomplished when vision, collaboration and creativity come together to improve economic, social and environmental sustainability. We’re very pleased to recognize the Maryland Port Administration and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with our Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award,” said Robert D. Stevens, Ph.D., P.E., president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Poplar Island has become an international model for its beneficial use of dredged sediment from channels leading to the Port of Baltimore to create a fish and wildlife habitat. In the mid-1800s, Poplar Island was a 1,140-acre community for a small population of Chesapeake Bay fishermen and their families. It later became a retreat for Presidents Roosevelt and Truman. After decades of erosion and sea level rise, nearly all of the original acreage was underwater. By the late 1990s, only about four acres of the island remained.
In 1998, restoration of Poplar Island began under a partnership between the MPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Today, Poplar Island has been restored to its former size with a thriving wetland habitat thanks to more than 27 million cubic yards of dredged material.