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Maryland Receives $1 Million For Coastal Resiliency

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, partnering with the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, a $1 million National Coastal Wetlands Conservation grant to implement coastal resiliency enhancements at the Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge and the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center.

The project will benefit Chesapeake Bay water quality through restoration of coastal wetlands and creation of oyster reefs enhancements at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Queen Anne’s County, and at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge in Kent County.

“Hard-bottom reefs, nearshore habitats, and coastal wetlands are fundamental to the survival and proliferation of numerous types of fish and benthic organisms,” said Michael Malpezzi, artificial reef coordinator for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “This makes them vitally important to the fisheries of Maryland and to our citizens.”

Coastal wetlands include both salt marshes of estuaries and freshwater wetlands that extend inland within the coastal drainages. They provide crucial habitat, including breeding grounds, nurseries, along with shelter and food for fish, birds, and other wildlife.

“Through the installation of living shorelines, we will slow the loss of ecologically valuable saltmarsh and protect coastal wetland habitats, including extensive submerged aquatic vegetation beds. The project aims to create nearshore oyster reef habitat, and enhance wetland habitat by improving water control on various freshwater wetland impoundments,” noted Vicki Paulas, assistant director and restoration manager for the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center.

“Waterfowl, fish, and other aquatic species depend on coastal habitats for foraging and breeding,” said Genevieve LaRouche, Field Supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office. “Coastal wetlands are also essential to the nation’s economy by boosting coastal resilience, reducing flooding risks, stabilizing shorelines, and protecting natural ecosystems.”

In recognition of the role wetlands play, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has funded $20.5 million to projects in 14 coastal states through the National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program. The program is funded, in part, through taxes paid on equipment and fuel purchases by recreational anglers and boaters.

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