Marsh Restoration Project in Avalon Officially Inaugurated

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Philadelphia District and its partners celebrated the recent start to dredging and marsh restoration near Avalon, N.J. during a ceremony hosted by the borough on December 11.

The project began in late November and involves dredging approximately 50,000 cubic yards of sediment from shoals in the federal channel of the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway and using the material to restore degraded marsh land owned by the state.

Multiple organizations are involved with the project: Barnegat Bay Dredging Company of Harvey Cedars, N.J. serves as the Army Corps’ contractor. A team, funded by a National Fish & Wildlife Foundation grant, with representatives from the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, and the Green Trust Alliance provide placement oversight and will conduct ecological monitoring.

USACE Project Manager Monica Chasten explained that post-Hurricane Sandy funding enabled the dredging of critical shoals from the Intracoastal Waterway, but placement locations were severely limited. A lack of capacity within confined disposal sites, as well as the need to restore marsh, necessitated a change in practice.

In 2014, USACE partnered with the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, and the Green Trust Alliance to conduct two demonstration projects to test dredging and placement techniques. One of the demo projects took place near Avalon and involved the thin-layer placement of 5000 cubic yards of fine-grained material to fill pools in degraded marsh.

The demonstrations were successful and paved the way for ongoing work, which is on a larger scale.

Jackie Jahn, an ecologist from Greenvest LLC, and Dr. Lenore Tedesco, executive director of the Wetlands Institute of Stone Harbor, said that this project will further inform best practices regarding the placement of dredged material to restore marsh.

Going forward, the USACE Philadelphia District plans to use this approach as a model for reusing clean and suitable dredged material in beneficial and cost-effective ways.

We are applying Regional Sediment Management and Engineering with Nature principles on these projects,” said Chasten. “When sediment is clean and suitable material, we look for opportunities to use it as a resource for ecological purposes and to augment coastal resiliency.”

The project is expected to be completed in February 2016 and costs approximately $1.5 million.