Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Funds for Barren, James Island Restoration Doubled

God only know how it ended up in a Texas paper, but there it is, Longview (Texas) News-Journal, Funding doubled for Mid-Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration

The state-led project utilizing dredged material to restore the habitats and structure of two Chesapeake Bay islands has secured an additional $46.5 million from the federal infrastructure bill, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) announced Monday.

The money further cements the beginning of the Mid-Bay Ecosystem Restoration project, which hopes to revitalize the vanishing habitats of the James and Barren islands off the Dorchester County coastline.

Replacing Poplar Island in Talbot County as Maryland’s primary site for repurposed sediment, the Dorchester islands will be reinforced with salt and silt from shipping channels in the Bay, giving the project credence as an environmental and economic initiative.

“It’s a big deal to be able to have the continuity of a location where we can put the dredged material for keeping our harbors competitive,” Cardin told a crowd of stakeholders and media.
. . .
The cash bump unveiled Monday more than doubles the funding already allocated through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is expected to begin its first phase of construction in September. In February, $37.5 million was earmarked for Mid-Bay in the Corps’ Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Work Plan. Like those funds, this new money — which brings the project’s total to $85 million — will be available to the Corps for use this year.
. . .
Projected to cost $1.6 billion, according to a 2009 feasibility study, the Mid-Bay Ecosystem Restoration project aims to create 2,100 acres of new wildlife habitat between the two islands. More than half of that acreage, Pinchasin said, will become wetlands.

Beyond cultivating and protecting environments for local species, the project also seeks to protect Dorchester shorelines from erosion and storm surges.

“This has been a dream. Absolutely a dream,” Maryland Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, said in an interview. “It is a matter of environmental good use. It is a matter of environmental protection, dealing with the changes that we’re seeing. But then also economic because it benefits the port.”

As nice as it will be to restore these two islands, don't ever forget that the primary goal here is to have some place to put dredge spoils from Baltimore Harbor. 

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