Fortifying eroding islands in Chesapeake Bay

Poplar expansion detail. Credit: USACE David Gray

James and Barren islands, two remote, eroding bits of land in Chesapeake Bay, USA, are on the brink of major change in an enormous project that will create important environmental habitats and fortify the islands while providing decades of dredged material storage capacity

An ambitious project to save the James and Barren islands, commonly referred to as Mid-Bay islands in Chesapeake Bay, United States, from erosion is scheduled to begin at Barren, the smaller of the two islands, in 2022, and James in 2024, with Barren possibly taking inflow of dredged material as early as 2028.

This is a region that includes Baltimore and its port, which has a history of beneficially using dredged material – cleared from navigation channels serving the port – to remediate parcels, restore ecosystems, and fortify bay islands.

A similar, ongoing project, Poplar Island, has been providing storage capacity and restored habitat for years. Poplar is being expanded and will eventually provide about 674 ha of wetland and upland.

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