conservation policy, Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, shorebird conservation, shorebird ecology, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation, wildlife tracking

Constructing Fortescue and Thompson’s Beach in 2015


The construction teams in Fortescue and Thompson’s are now moving as fast as possible to finish the restoration work before the arrival of the horseshoe crabs in Delaware Bay.

Each company follows a different procedure for building Fortescue and Thompson’s beaches. At Fortescue, the town rebuilt an existing berm of rubble that protected the beach road after Hurricane Sandy destroyed ​the berm​. They then capped it with unformed concrete. H4’s excavator moves slowly down the reformed berm to load sand on the inter​-​tidal beach to create an out-of-tide roadway for the bulldozer (see video above). Subsequent sand is used to push out the high tide line out from the be​rm​ and away from the impingement hazards.

On Thompson’s Beach, the Wickberg Marine team pushes sand out from a staging area, where trucks dump their loads. The excavator loads an​ all-terrain dump truck that hauls the sand out to the end of the existing beach​,​ where the bulldozer spreads​ the sand​ to extend the beach.

The sand for both sites comes from local sand mines, keystone businesses for both Cumberland and western Cape May Counties. On a visit to the Ricci Brothers Company sand mind, I spoke to Sam Ricci Jr.​,​ who explained they are among the smallest of sand mines in the area, ​whose sand is used for construction and the making of glass. Ricci Bros, which employs 16 people at union wages, uses a five-story machine that separates sand by grain size and sells to highly specialized markets. Our sand purchase is among their largest (see video above).


Boomer Heun of H4 in front of bulldozer on Fortescue​ Beach.


Excavator dropping sand on Fortescue Beach.


Staging area at Thompson’s Beach while a furious southerly wind whips up the Bay.


Steve Green pushing out Thompson’s Beach.


Steve Green standing beside his bulldozer.


Sam Ricci Jr. of Ricci Bros Sand Company standing before his family’s sand plant.