The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District Biologists, together with the Floating Plant Crew, were at the Ashtabula Harbor east breakwater, May 4, repairing storm-damaged common tern (Sterna hirundo) habitat.
The common tern habitat was constructed two years ago in an effort to establish an additional breeding location along the southern shore of Lake Erie. The tern has been absent from this area for decades due to the lack of suitable habitat.
Scheduled Ashtabula Harbor breakwater repair work provided the perfect opportunity for the EA (Environmental Analysis) Biologists, directed by Biologist Richard Ruby, to set up breeding habitat as part of the Corps’ “green breakwater” initiative.
The Ashtabula Breakwater Tern Nesting Habitat Demonstration Project is an example of the Corps of Engineers’ Engineering with Nature (EWN) Program, which is the alignment of natural and engineering solutions that beneficially integrate engineering and natural systems to deliver economic, environmental, and social benefits through collaborative processes.
“Selecting appropriately-sized gravel, which not only will be accepted by the terns as suitable nesting medium, but will also withstand storm-driven waves, has been the most challenging aspect of this project,” said Biologist Jay Miller.
Buffalo District biologists will perform maintenance and monitoring of the habitat for one more year before handing the project over to the Ohio Nature Conservancy. If the project is successful, it will provide a means of returning the common tern to the local avian community.