Sandy Recovery: Delaware Marsh Restoration at Hook National Wildlife Refuge

In the wake of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, tens of thousands of acres of wildlife marsh that had formerly served as an escape for beachgoers and safe haven for migratory birds and wildlife was on the verge of collapse. Few areas were as hard hit as Delaware’s pristine Hook National Wildlife Refuge.

As state and federal officials as well as environmental groups assessed the damage and evaluated remediation strategies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service concluded that in order to recover these valuable lost habits, it would be critical to first “understand how fresh and salt water circulate within the refuge impoundments, and salinity would change in various marsh restoration scenarios”  (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, 16 Dec. 2016).

In partnership with Atkins Global and the Army Corps of Engineers, Dredge America is honored to have been part of  “one of the most successful restoration projects in United States history,” as noted by former DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara.

Thanks to the planning and diligence of our Site Manager Justin McDougal, Dredge America was able to operate two dredges at over 60 hours per week, for two consecutive seasons to create over 30 miles of tidal channels and close four significant shorelines breaches, which were critical to improving natural tidal circulations in the marsh.

As our Site Manager Justin McDougal remarked to The Delaware News Journal, our two dredges working on the marsh used very specialized controls to get both the width and the depth of the channels exactly right. After an excavator broke up phragmites reed root mats in the marsh, “some 30 miles of historic channels will be restored in the marsh and 560,000 cubic yards of sediment will be spread in a thin layer over the adjacent wetland.”

While this project certainly stands out for the sheer scope and technical complexity, it isn’t often that our work ends up across newspapers nationwide. Thanks to our strong working relationship with the State of Delaware, US Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we are extremely proud of our work on this important project.


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