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Beneficial Reuse of Dredge Material on a Tidal Marsh

Written on: May 24th, 2017 in Beneficial Use

Dredge definitionWhat is one way to give a marsh a lift with the challenge of rising seas? Spray the muddy material that has been dredged up from the bottom of a creek in a thin layer on top of the marsh. But how much mud is too much, and can the plants survive? These are a couple of the questions we (Wetland Monitoring & Assessment Program) set out to answer.

In 2013, Pepper Creek in Dagsboro was set to be dredged, so we rallied the troops and came up with a plan to test out how the beneficial reuse of dredge materials (also called thin layer application) affect marshes in Delaware. The resulting spoils from dredging were thinly sprayed over the marsh at the Piney Point Tract of the Assawoman Wildlife Area, and long term monitoring stations were set up.

Dredge material being sprayed on marsh surface.

Dredge material being sprayed on marsh surface.

For the past three years we have been looking at how the plant community has responded to the application, and how the marsh surface has changed by performing Real Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS transect surveys of the area and measuring surface accretion with feldspar marker horizon plots.

From the data we have been gathering we’ve figured out a couple of things that work and some things that need further study for future projects:

feldspar plot in application area

Feldspar assessment plot in a thin layer dredge application area.

So the nitty gritty of it is that spraying dredge materials on top of a marsh can increase the height of that marsh. But, careful attention must be paid to how thickly the mud is sprayed, and the site should be monitored for problem areas that need replanting.

This project was done in partnership with DNREC’s Shoreline and Waterway Management Section.  For more information or questions about this project, please contact Alison Rogerson at alison.rogerson@state.de.us or 302-739-9939.

Keeping an Eye on the Rising Tide: SSIM

Written on: May 24th, 2017 in Wetland Assessments

Coastal wetlands are a hallmark feature of the Delaware’s Bayshore, making up about 23% of all wetland types in the state. Because of the many beneficial services these wetlands provide, such as wave energy reduction, the survival of coastal wetlands is an important part of protecting our seaside communities from threats associated with the changing […]


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Floating Wetlands

Written on: May 24th, 2017 in Outreach

Guest Writer: Phil Miller, DNREC’s Nonpoint Source Program We’ve all heard about wetlands before but have you ever heard of a floating wetland? Floating wetlands are artificial islands with plants on top and roots below. Similar to a natural wetland, they improve water quality by soaking up nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus. These two nutrients […]


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Re-Engineering Nature in Delaware Tax Ditches

Written on: May 22nd, 2017 in Wetland Restorations

Guest Writer: Melissa Hubert, DNREC’s Drainage Program Fun fact, did you know that there are 234 tax ditch organizations scattered across Delaware that provide water management services to over 100,000 residents and nearly half of the state-maintained roads? These watershed based organizations are responsible for maintaining over 2,000 miles of ditch channel to ensure the […]


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Shoreline Stabilization Solutions for You!

Written on: May 22nd, 2017 in Living Shorelines

Where to Begin and an Expedited Permitting Process. Guest Writers: Julie Molina, Katie Huegel and Matt Jones of DNREC’s Wetlands & Subaqueous Lands Section Delaware’s coastal communities face constant challenges from shoreline erosion. Historically, tidal wetlands act as the natural solution for shoreline stabilization. Tidal wetlands provide protection against shoreline erosion, a mechanism for flood […]


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Making the Great Cypress Swamp Great Again

Written on: March 16th, 2017 in Wetland Restorations

Guest Writer: Andrew Martin, Field Ecologist, Delaware Wild Lands The Great Cypress Swamp once covered nearly 60,000 acres. Although a long history of ditching and draining for agriculture and development has reduced its vast expanse, the Swamp remains Delmarva Peninsula’s largest contiguous forest and largest freshwater wetland. For the last 50 years, Delaware Wild Lands […]


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Wetlands Celebration Event & Family Bike Rally

Written on: March 15th, 2017 in Outreach

Start American Wetlands Month off right with the 14th Annual Get in Gear Family Bike Rally and the inaugural Wetlands Celebration on Saturday, May 6th from 9am to 2pm at Trap Pond State Park in Laurel, Delaware. These two events have joined together to provide fun and engaging entertainment for the whole family that brings awareness […]


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Proof is in the Pudding, or Mud in this Case…

Written on: March 15th, 2017 in Living Shorelines

Living Shorelines Really Do Work! Tidal wetlands are incredible ecosystems that protect us and our properties from storm floods, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, clean our water, and store carbon from the atmosphere. When these wetlands are in good condition, they have the ability to keep up with sea level rise, allowing them to […]


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The Bog Turtle: a Sun-Loving Harbinger of Spring

Written on: March 15th, 2017 in Wetland Animals

Guest Writer: Amy Nazdrowicz, Landmark Science & Engineering As residents of the Delmarva Peninsula, we are blessed with a high diversity of herpetofauna, (reptiles and amphibians), in part because of our landscape position which transitions between two physiographic regions: the coastal plain in its southern and central portions to the piedmont in the north. And no […]


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Where are Wetlands?

Written on: March 13th, 2017 in Outreach

So the saying goes that no matter where you are in Delaware, you are no more than a mile away from a wetland. But exactly where are all the wetlands in the state, and how can you find out if you have them on your property? We have just the answer for you, our new […]


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