Mid-Chesapeake Bay restoration project available for public review

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), the project’s non-federal sponsor, has prepared a draft supplemental Environmental Assessment (sEA) for the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration Project (Mid-Bay Island Project) at Barren Island.

The Mid-Bay Island Project recommends remote island restoration at two locations, James Island and Barren Island, both on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Dorchester County, Maryland, through the beneficial use of dredged material.

The purpose of this project is to: restore and protect wetland, aquatic, and terrestrial island habitat for fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals; protect existing island ecosystems to prevent further loss of island and aquatic habitat; increase wetlands acreage in the Chesapeake Bay watershed; decrease local erosion and turbidity; promote conditions to establish and enhance submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV); and promote conditions that support oyster recolonization.

The project also develops a long-term strategy for providing viable placement alternatives that meet the dredging needs of the Port of Baltimore while maximizing the use of dredged materials as a beneficial resource. Restoration of island habitat is necessary and valuable to the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem.

In the last 150 years, it has been estimated that 10,500 acres of this type of habitat have been lost in the middle-eastern portion of Chesapeake Bay. Remote island habitat is valuable as resting and nesting sites for migratory and shore birds.

USACE and MPA will be accepting comments regarding the draft sEA for the Barren Island component of the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project until January 18, 2022.

A separate NEPA compliance document will be developed in the future for construction of the James Island component of the Mid-Bay Island Project.

Photo: USACE