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sustainable land use

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

Shorebirds Arrive on Restored Delaware Bay Beaches

After a week of lovely spring weather, strong westerly winds blowing over a still cold sea reasserted winter’s hold on our beaches. Last week, the machine operators wore short sleeves, today they pulled out the camo down and Carhard woolen caps. I dug out my Patagonia down hoodie. The sea looked angry as wave after wave assaulted our new beach at Fortescue – three days so far. We lost sand but as Steve Hafner says, “it probably stayed in the profile” or within the beaches designed shape. Let’s hope so. The impact of the wind today demonstrates the importance of giving the horseshoe crabs and the birds choices for…

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Conserving Wildlife, Delaware Bay, habitat management, Restoring Habitat, Science, sustainable land use, wildlife conservation

Sand and Spring on the Delaware Bayshore

The movement of sand on the Delaware Bay remains a mystery to coastal geologists. Unlike the Atlantic coast, where currents create a longshore drift which pushes sand generally southward, Delaware bay sand moves at the whim of both bay and creek currents and prevailing winds. The sand on any beach can move differently than adjacent beaches and sometimes in different directions on the same beach. This is what Steve Hafner of Stockton University suspects will happen with the sand at Fortescue. A small point made by the bending road, divides the beach and may determine if sand moves to the north towards the…

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

Beaches Are Growing And Reefs Are Being Built

The two beaches slowly take form but already promise better breeding habitat for horseshoe crabs. H4 adds about 2000 tons of Ricci Bros Sand every day, slowly building towards our goal of 48,000 tons on Fortescue Beach. We are now at 20,500 tons. One can now envisage the final beach and the sheer volume of sand it will take to make it. Boomer Huen running the front end loader and bulldozer pushes sand into the inter-tidal zone and the night time high tide reshapes it. Its not a loss however, the sand moves into the designed beach profile that Steve…

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

Improving Economy of Local Bayshore Towns

Although our project focuses on improving conditions for horseshoe crabs and birds, we also aim to improve the economy of rural bayshore towns in small but meaningful ways. This is important because, like much of the country’s rural areas, Cumberland County suffers enormous levels of poverty. According to a recent survey by NJ Times, Cumberland has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country with nearly 44% of working age males are out of work. We tried to help at the start of our work. We included the leaders of the bayside towns, Middle Township, Maurice River Township and…

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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…

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

Restoration Continues, Regardless of Snow

Both projects, Thompson’s Beach and South Fortescue Beach continued under a cold and very wet snow storm this past Friday (March 20, 2015). Just the five mile difference made for snowfall on Fortescue, but rain on Thompson’s. With rubble removed in the first section of Fortescue beach, Boomer Huen started building the beach on South Fortescue. With 7 trucks carrying loads of sand from Ricci Brothers Sand Plan, we were able to place over 1,000 yards of sand. The geographical orientation of this new beach will be similar to those on the Cape May peninsula including North and South Reeds Beach….

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

Work at Fortescue Beach Begins

With the help of the New Jersey Division of Land Use Regulation, we were cleared to work on Fortescue Beach last Friday, March 20, 2015. It’s a big project! We will be moving over 40,000 yards of sand, nearly twice as much as was used in 2013 on the five beaches between Reeds Beach to Pierce’s Point. Restoring South Fortescue Beach will be vital to achieving the goals of our project. The most important goal is to remove the threat posed by a rubble strewn shoreline. The rubble served as a stopgap attempt to protect the road that connects Fortescue…

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

Thompson’s Beach Restoration is Underway

Earlier this month, this season’s restoration work began at Thompson’s Beach. Wickberg Marine restored the road out to the Beach. The road once served the community of Thompson’s Beach, a small bayside enclave of Maurice River Township. After a series of punishing storms, the State DEP and Maurice River Township gained control of the small overwashed beach community and removed the houses. Two years ago, the DEP’s Bureau of Coastal Engineering and NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife removed much of the rubble that residents once used to protect their homes from angry Delaware Bay storms, but left a significant portion…

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Expeditions and Travels, shorebird conservation, South Carolina, sustainable land use

jobs, shorebirds and a sunny day on a South Carolina beach

The crew heading out to Deveaux Bank, SCThe noonday sun bathed us with early but welcome warmth while we sat behind a dune on Deveaux Bank, SC. A gentle breeze kept us cool while we waited for the tide to rise and shrink the island where three thousand red knots roosted. The Atlantic ocean sprawled in all directions, the Islands of Seabrook and Kiawah within sight a few miles off. Inevitably the tide would force the knots onto the intertidal flat before us, where we had set a cannon net several hours earlier.The crew setting the net was a mixed bag of characters such as, photographer/author, an English micro biologist, three biologists from the USFWS, including Melissa Bimbi, the southern lead on the listing of the red knot. The…

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conservation policy, sustainable land use

A brief history of conservation on the Delaware Bayshore with an eye to the future

The conservation of Delaware Bay has evolved many times over in the last hundred years.  Some of the changes were a consequence of economic shifts, others a reflection of our growing understanding of the ecological fabric of the land.  Reflecting on this past helps us understand where we are today and points to where we should aim for the future. Before the 1950’s the conservation ethic of the Delaware bayshore was more a consequence of necessity than any explicit doctrine.   During the first half of the 20th century the bayshore was a sleepy place that supported a rural population of…

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shorebird ecology, sustainable land use

Protection only partly done

Mark Peck of Royal Ontario Museum scans shorebirds on the Delaware BayshoreA few days ago Mark Peck and I did a shorebird survey by boat that took us to all the nooks and crannies of NJ’s Delaware Bayshore. Leaving Smokey’s Marina at Reed’s Beach, we took our 16 ft Carolina Skiff all the way to Gandys Beach on the upper Bay.   It was a stunning journey .  One can’t help but admire the results of decades of conservation that led to this mostly protected and wild shoreline.   A map of the Delaware Bayshore showing the vast tidal and non…

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sustainable land use

job creation through conservation

When most people hear the word “environmentalism” they think of job loss.   Industry helps along this mistaken conclusion because it almost always  overestimates the cost of complying with environmental regulation .  We hear plenty about the costs but never about the outcome — that complying is not only less costly, it creates greater efficiency and ultimately improves productivity.  Increased productivity equals new jobs or better pay.   But what of the economic impact of habitat creation or wildlife conservation?  This is not so clear.  The costs and benefits of conservation are most often tested in discrete locations where one can control…

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sustainable land use, wildlife conservation

Why does the Delaware Bay lack identity?

I have been working on Delaware Bay for decades, and increasingly I ask the question, “why does Delaware Bay have no identity to the people of this region and what are the consequences?”  I was reminded of this once again, while writing my blog entry on the Atlantic Sturgeon (see here), because of the odd conclusion of the writers of the sturgeon’s Federal Status Assessment.  In that Assessment, the scientists studying the sturgeon repeatedly stated that the Delaware Bay was the heart of the Atlantic Sturgeon population.  Before it’s decades-long crash, over 75% of the east coast catch of sturgeon…

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sustainable land use, wildlife conservation

Sturgeon at Caviar Point, NJ

The Sturgeon of Caviar Point Our friend Trudy Hanson, who leads the Sustainable Jersey program for our town, Greenwich, sent me a picture of an Atlantic sturgeon found dead on the Delaware Bayshore.  Ironically, the unfortunate animal washed up at Caviar Point, a lonely place that was once the center of the Delaware Bay’s long-defunct sturgeon fishery.  This rare fish, who like the red knot is now a candidate for federal listing as a threatened species, washed ashore exactly at the location where hundreds of people found productive employment over a century ago.An Atlantic Sturgeon that washed ashore at Caviar…

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sustainable land use

Boom and Bust: a short history of fisheries management on Delaware Bay

Few people are aware of the rich cultural history that grew from the Delaware Bay’s natural abundance of wildlife.  It’s a history of boom and bust that once created great wealth, land of opportunity that employed thousands of people.  Today we see all pale reminders of what once was. This is especially true for the commercial fishermen or baymen who harvest the bay’s fish, crabs and mollusks.  These baymen have endured many economic hardships over the years, the latest being the reduction in horseshoe crab harvests that many fear will end this historic Delaware Bay occupation. Unfortunately the bay’s fishing…

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