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Chesapeake Bay News

Nov
01
2007

Bay Program Partners Unite to Restore Critical Wetland Habitat on Maryland's Eastern Shore

When it comes to cleaning up the Bay, partnerships among state agencies and non-profit organizations give restoration efforts the most “bang for the buck” by coupling funding opportunities with unmatched expertise. This is evident at the 950-acre Jean Ellen DuPont Shehan Audubon Sanctuary, where Maryland DNR, the Maryland-DC Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited and the Waterfowl Festival have teamed up to restore and enhance vital wildlife habitat.

The property, located in Bozman, Md., on a peninsula surrounded by three creeks, includes over 200 acres of grass meadows, 300 acres of woodlands, 8 miles of shoreline and 10 miles of walking trails. The Sanctuary is used for scientific research, outdoor science-based education and wildlife and habitat conservation. Nearly 200 bird species frequent the Sanctuary's diverse habitats throughout the year.

Ducks Unlimited, the nation's largest wetlands and waterfowl conservation group, is leading the effort to restore 63 acres of wildlife habitat at the Sanctuary: 25 acres of shallow water and emergent wetlands, 19 acres of forested buffers, 12 acres of wildlife food plots and 7 acres of warm season grass buffers. In addition to the water quality benefits that the project will provide, the site will also be used to demonstrate and showcase the effectiveness of partnerships in Bay restoration.

The importance of the wetlands restoration at the Sanctuary cannot be overstated. Wetlands account for only about 4 percent of the 64,000-square mile Bay watershed, but they are vital to the health and productivity of the Bay and its tributaries. Wetlands improve and protect water quality by:

  • Removing and retaining excessive nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, from the water.
  • Minimizing sediment loads and absorbing chemical and organic pollutants before they can enter the Bay and its tributaries.

Wetlands also help prevent flooding by temporarily storing floodwaters, and help prevent erosion by acting as a buffer between larger bodies of water and the land.

The wetland restoration project at the Jean Ellen DuPont Shehan Audubon Sanctuary is part of the Bay Program's current strategy committing partners to the restoration of 25,000 acres of wetlands by 2010. Between 1998 and 2005, 10,463 acres of tidal and non-tidal wetlands were established or reestablished in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. (Establishment is creating a wetland that did not previously exist; reestablishment is restoring the historic functions of a former wetland.) * Note: Current status is based on cumulative voluntary efforts through 2005 in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, and through 2004 in Pennsylvania.

Those wishing to view the restored wetlands can participate in one of the guided tours planned for each day of the 2007 Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland.


Keywords: wetlands, restoration

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