Combatting the effects of sea level rise by creating a more resilient estuarine system for migratory waterfowl
The Curles Neck property contains approximately 400 acres (162 hectares) of tidal freshwater swamp and 300 acres (121 hectares) of open water habitat along the James River, a main tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. This project? A combination of perimeter controls and adaptive management to protect shrinking waterfowl habitat from the effects of sea level rise. Our contributions included environmental consulting, design, and permitting services.
Since the 1960s, Curles Neck Swamp was protected by an existing levee to seasonally manage water levels within the wetlands and to maintain existing vegetation patterns and optimize nesting and feeding habitat for waterfowl. Unfortunately, the levee system was flanked by actively eroding tidal channels that limited the ability to manage water levels.
Our preservation design included the construction of a half-mile-long (0.8 kilometre), low-profile sheet pile structure to extend the existing levee across the breach channels and re-establish hydrologic control to the interior of the swamp. Efforts also included the establishment of additional tidal marsh to mitigate for impacts associated with construction.
With early collaboration between the design team, stakeholders, and regulatory agencies and our team’s design and permitting services, the project’s solutions had the necessary flexibility to create a more resilient estuarine system.
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