The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District in partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), the project’s non-federal sponsor, is preparing a supplemental environmental assessment (sEA) for the Barren Island component of the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project.
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The Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration project, often referred to as Mid-Bay Island, is located on the islands of James and Barren in western Dorchester County, Maryland. The project is focused on restoring/expanding island habitat to provide hundreds of acres of wetland and terrestrial habitat for fish, shellfish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals through the beneficial use of dredged material.
This will provide direct benefits of improved health, richness, and sustainability to aquatic and wildlife species. In addition, it will provide indirect benefits of navigational safety, education, and passive recreation and perhaps, increased tourism. The conceptual plan for the feasibility study proposes 55 percent wetland and 45 percent upland habitats. Habitat may include submerged aquatic habitat, mudflat, low marsh, high marsh, islands, ponds, channels and upland areas.
The project 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.
A Chief’s Report signed August 24, 2009 approved the final feasibility report, dated June 2009. The recommended plan consists of constructing environmental restoration projects at both James and Barren Islands.
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