The 13,000-acre Deal Island Wildlife Management Area in Somerset County, Maryland, encompasses tidal marshes, forested wetlands, and a nearly 2,800-acre brackish impoundment. Historically, this impoundment was composed mostly of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) and emergent marsh. Recently, however, large areas of the marsh have been replaced by open water, degrading habitat quality for waterfowl and other wetland wildlife.
Monitoring performed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) indicated that these changes resulted from multiple factors, the most notable of which was inadequate water-control capabilities. In an effort to reduce the loss of SAV and restore precise water control, DU partnered with the Maryland DNR and others to install four additional water-control structures on the Deal Island impoundment. This project was completed last November. Although it is too early to fully assess the impact of these new structures, project partners are confident that the benefits will be significant.
"Although Chesapeake Bay has experienced a gradual increase in submerged aquatic vegetation since the mid-1980s, the current acreage is still well below historical estimates," said DU regional biologist Jake McPherson. "Wetland enhancement projects like this one are vital to ensuring the persistence of SAV, one of the bay's most important resources for migrating waterfowl."