At 460 hectares, the Paul Sarbanes Environmental Restoration Project at Poplar Island, Talbot County, Maryland, represents the largest 'beneficial use' dredged material project of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (a cooperative project with Maryland Port Administration). Begun in 1998, the 15-year restoration project will ultimately consist of roughly 220 ha of uplands and 220 ha of tidal wetland habitats, with limited areas of dike roads, perimeter riprap, and unvegetated mudflats. Wetland restoration began in one small section (or 'cell') in 2002, but not all cells will be filled with dredged material until at least 2013. As a major objective of the restoration, six species of waterbirds were identified as 'priority species' for Chesapeake Bay: American black duck (Anas rubripes), snowy egret (Egretta thula), cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), osprey (Pandion haliaetus), common tern (Sterna hirundo), and least tern (S. antillarum). Monitoring of nesting activities of these species from 2002 to 2005 indicated that all species except black ducks colonized the site rapidly. More than 800 pairs of common terns nested in 2003 to 2004. Because of predation by red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and great horned owl (Bubo virginianus), reproductive success was very low for the terns. Trapping was effective in removing the foxes, and other controls have been applied to opportunistic nesting species including herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and Canada geese (Branta canadensis). An effective public education program on the island has helped address concerns about animal control.
Additional publication details
Poplar Island Environmental Restoration Project: Challenges in waterbird restoration on an island in Chesapeake Bay