MPA is committed to the stewardship of the Chesapeake Bay, including the wildlife that depends on aquatic and shoreline habitat. MPA conducts a variety of habitat enhancement and ecosystem restoration projects that benefit fish, crabs, oysters, and waterfowl.
The most dramatic restoration opportunities have resulted from the “beneficial use” of dredged material. Beneficial use means putting dredged material to work in ways that are not only safe, but beneficial to the environment—such as creating wetlands, improving wildlife habitat, and restoring eroded islands. Beneficial use is the preferred management policy of MPA’s Dredged Material Management Program.
was a series of severely eroded islands between the mouths of Back and Middle Rivers in Baltimore County until becoming a placement site for dredged material from the Baltimore Harbor. MPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are transforming Hart-Miller Island into a major stop-over for migratory shorebirds. The National Audubon Society already includes the island on its list of Important Bird Areas. The island will offer seven acres of trees, a three-acre pond, a bird-nesting island, 184 acres of wetlands and mudflats for shorebird habitat, and 110 acres of upland grass habitat for songbirds. Innovative “floating wetland islands” will provide a seed source for establishing native grasses and emergent vegetation. They will also enhance fish and wildlife habitats and improve water quality. The island also features a public beach, which opened as a state park in 1981 and continues to be a popular destination for thousands of Maryland boaters each year.
was once a 1,100-acre island in the mid-Chesapeake Bay, but erosion and rising sea levels reduced it to less than 10 acres. Dredged material from Baltimore's shipping channels is now restoring the island to 1,140 acres of tidal marsh and upland habitat in what has become a nationally recognized model of environmental restoration. As part of a comprehensive adaptive management plan, MPA and its partners will create small islands, ponds, mudflats, and channels within the marsh areas to increase habitat diversity. Upland habitat diversity will be increased by small ponds and freshwater wetlands with forest, scrub/shrub, and meadow areas. Poplar Island is the site of an extensive research project for the Maryland diamondback terrapin, including the collection of hatchlings and controlled release of juvenile turtles. MPA also funded an aquaculture research program at the island with Anne Arundel Community College to grow submerged aquatic vegetation for various restoration activities. Due to Poplar Island's proximity to eagle nesting sites and a heron rookery, construction activities are tailored to limit impacts on these species.
flows into the Patapsco River and Chesapeake Bay and next to the Cox Creek dredged material placement site. MPA partnered with the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the North County Land Trust to restore 11 acres of tidal wetland habitat along the creek. The work has improved 3 acres of open water, 7 acres of tidal marsh, and 1 acre of salt bush. The wetlands are now reconnected to tidal flows by a passage that allows spawning fish to reach protected interior waters. New stands of native grasses and shrubs have replaced invasive species, and 230 “reef balls” have improved aquatic habitat and protected the beach from erosion
managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, works to restore the depleted stock of native oysters in Maryland’s portion of the Bay. MPA has helped to fund the program since its inception in 1996, initially supporting both a habitat and seed oyster program. Oysters can contribute to the health of the Bay by removing excess nutrients from the water as they continuously filter water for food. However, current oyster stocks are about 1% of historic levels. This severe depletion is due to over-harvesting, disease, habitat loss and declining water quality
will help keep non-native species out of Bay waters. Invasions of coastal habitats by non-native species are increasingly common worldwide and are known to cause extensive ecological and economic damage. Over 150 non-native species have been identified in Bay waters. Most have been introduced through the ballast water of ships. MPA, the Maryland Department of Transportation, and the University of Maryland established MERC as a valuable resource for testing and evaluating systems that can effectively treat ballast water for the presence of non-native species.