Yale Environment 360: Why Restoring Wetlands Is More Critical Than Ever

Healthy-marsh-MilfordNeck-800This is a healthy marsh in the Milford Neck Conservation Area on Delaware Bay. Marshes need the meandering creeks and ponds seen here, and the hummocks (the dark gray areas) are important resting and roosting areas for migratory birds.
Photo Credit: Yale Environment 360

By Bruce Stutz

The work began at low tide on the Mispillion marsh on Delaware Bay. A field team hauled coconut fiber logs the size and heft of rolled carpets out beyond the tall cordgrass to the gray mud flat that extended from the marsh edge. Ten or so yards out, where the mudflat met the open water, an array of gray stacked blocks made of marine limestone and oyster shell was already set out. Looking like the battlements of a buried castle, this permeable reef was designed to deflect and dissipate the energy of the bay’s water as it flows toward the marsh.

If it works, this project will forestall further erosion of the existing marsh, whose banks are being undercut and washed away. And it will allow new sediment to build up behind the coco-fiber “biologs” that were staked intoplace to form the new marsh edge, a “living shoreline” that is the latest effort to protect and restore Delaware Bay’s tidal wetlands.


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