State and federal officials are celebrating the successful completion of the $38 million restoration project at Delaware’s Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge.
It is being touted as the largest restoration project on the East Coast.
Beginning in 2015, the federally funded project increased storm resiliency and remediated damage to the marsh from Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Specifically, the project aimed to restore over 4,000 acres of tidal marsh, improve tidal circulation and create valuable habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.
The project was also deemed essential to help protect the region from future storms and sea level rise.
AMEC and marine subcontractor Dredge America used two Ellicott 460 Swinging Ladder dredgers for this project. The dredgers operated over 60 hours per week for two seasons – Spring 2015 and Summer 2016.
In total, they created more than 30 miles of tidal channels and closed four shoreline breaches, both essential to improving natural tidal circulations in the marsh.
Dredging restored this natural tidal water circulation and will enable salt marsh vegetation to return and flourish, improving the resilience against future storms and sea level rise, and provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.
The dredging work has also established a constant saltwater flow throughout the marsh, which will help combat invasive Phragmites grasses.
The project has been deemed “one of the most successful restoration projects in United States history,” by former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.