The Town of North Beach Walton Reserve Living Shoreline and Habitat Enhancement Project was awarded to Environmental Concern at the October meeting of the North Beach Town Council. Funding for the project is the result of a $540,000 grant North Beach obtained from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s (NFWF) Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Relief Program. Only 4 NFWF grants were awarded in Maryland.
Environmental Concern will construct a Living Shoreline at the Town’s Walton Beach Nature Reserve site located between MD RT 261 and the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The design will protect the 105-acre North Beach salt marsh from further erosion and prevent damage to the road. The North Beach salt marsh is also an important Black Duck stopover. The Living Shoreline will provide additional habitat for this and other important species, as well as provide numerous water quality and educational benefits.
As part of the education initiative, the Calvert County Public School students will learn about the importance of wetlands while being immersed in the large-scale restoration project. Students will be active participants in an “Assistant Wetland Scientists Program” that will immerse them in the water, mud, and fun of implementing best management practices.
The initial stage of the North Beach Shoreline Restoration Project took place during the first week of November. Approximately 600 students from Calvert County Public Schools participated in baseline assessments at 9 stations, set up by the EC staff along the shoreline. Each group of 9th graders had the opportunity to work as student scientists, conducting water quality tests, habitat assessments, and identification of existing vegetation. Students documented the existing site conditions through the collection of data. All of the information collected will also be used to evaluate the success of the restoration project after the shoreline construction is completed.
The students will also help plant over 10,000 native wetland plants when the shoreline is restored and prepared for the final phase of the project. The planting is scheduled for spring, 2015.
Environmental Concern is a non-profit established in 1972 that exists to promote public understanding and stewardship of wetlands with the goal of improving water quality and enhancing nature’s habitat. To learn more, please visit www.wetland.org.