Regardless of their size, islands play a critical role in providing valuable habitat, recreation opportunities, and coastal protection by reducing erosion and wave energy to nearby shorelines.
Islands often consist of multiple habitats spanning different elevations, like beaches, dunes, and marshes. These habitats in succession act as multiple lines of defense to reduce wave energy and loss of habitat.
Islands are disappearing at an alarming rate along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic coast of the United States. As islands disappear, so do their valuable habitats and the critical protective functions they provide.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been addressing this challenge by restoring and creating islands through the beneficial use of dredged sediment, which is increasing habitats and protecting nearby shorelines.
USACE’s Engineering With Nature® initiative is partnering with its Baltimore District and multiple stakeholders to restore Swan Island in the Chesapeake Bay.
The restoration of Swan Island provided a unique opportunity to quantify and evaluate island performance and use that data to inform future monitoring and adaptive management strategies.