Restoring Savannah saltmarsh habitat

Members of the USACE Savannah and Jacksonville Districts began collaborating on a restoration project at the Dredged Material Containment Area 1S last month .

Mel Orr, USACE

The area is located on the Savannah River near Port Wentworth, Georgia, and this work is part of the mitigation requirements associated with the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

“Overall I think what is special about this project is we are restoring approximately 29 acres of dredged material containment area back to its original saltmarsh habitat,” said Alexander Gregory, a biologist working for the planning branch in the USACE, Savannah District.

“The significance of this is saltmarshes provide essential ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration, protection from storm surges and floods, and nursery and foraging habitats for fisheries species.”

According to Gregory, their primary goals for the project are:

  • to naturally revegetate the site with the native species Spartina alterniflora, commonly known as smooth cordgrass;
  • to ensure adequate exchange of brackish surface water with pore waters located at the interior of the island;
  • to restore natural tidal marsh features and hydrology throughout the next seven years.

The process of revegetating is intended to reoccur naturally and passively but USACE is prepared to manage adaptively should the plants not colonize as predicted.