Paul S. Sarbanes Ecosystem Restoration Project at Poplar Island
Talbot County, Maryland United States
Public Parks and Recreation
Maryland Port Administration
Poplar Island was not much of an island at all in the early 1990s. The Port of Baltimore's bay shipping channels had an excess of dredge material that needed to be disposed of somewhere. Meanwhile, erosion and tidal changes had eliminated thousands of acres of remote island habitat in the Chesapeake, including Poplar Island, a once prosperous fishing post that was almost entirely covered by water by the end of last century. The Poplar Island - now more than 1,100 acres - restoration took more than a decade to complete and was constructed almost completely from material dredged from the Port of Baltimore's Bay shipping channels.
Triple Bottom Line
Economic: The island was constructed almost completely from material dredged from the Port of Baltimore's Bay shipping channels, saving on material costs and improving the waterways around the port to continue the trade and shipping industries in the area.
Social: The island provides opportunities to observe wildlife in its natural setting within the Chesapeake Bay. The project also raises awareness of environmental concerns within the Chesapeake Bay area.
Environmental: The wetlands and uplands provide remote-island terrain essential for the wildlife that calls the largest estuary in the United States - the Chesapeake Bay - home.
The restoration project won the 2015 Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers as well as a Coastal America award. It is the product of an innovative solution for dredged material management that resulted in the restoration of a once vanishing island.