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Tidal Wetland Restoration at Beaver Dam Creek


When Beaver Dam Creek was dredged in the 1920s and 1960s, dikes were built along the edge of the creek and the dredge spoil material was deposited on the marshes. Such alterations to the natural hydrology of the system also contributed to the spread of the invasive common reed (Phragmites australis). The result was degraded salt marsh habitat that provided few of the essential marsh functions necessary for many wetland-dependent species.

Ducks Unlimited has recently restored an eight-acre parcel, owned by the Post-Morrow Foundation, on the eastern side of the creek on Long Island’s south shore. Construction of the project was completed in June 2004. Over 10,000 cubic yards of dredge spoil and vegetative material were removed from the site over the course of three months. Four tidal channels and four tidal pools were constructed, and a mosaic of low marsh, high marsh, and mud flat habitats was created. The wildlife response has been dramatic, with immediate use following construction by waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, salt marsh fishes, and blue crabs.

Volunteers helped plant a portion of the site with native salt marsh grasses (salt marsh cordgrass, spike grass, salt marsh bulrush) after the project was finished. There has also been substantial regrowth from the seedbed, including salt marsh cordgrass, salt marsh fleabane, spike rush, and bulrush.

Funding for the construction and plant material at the eight-acre site has been generously provided through the NOAA Restoration Center’s Community-based Restoration Program, Town of Brookhaven, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Post-Morrow Foundation, Brookhaven Village Association, New York Sea Grant, Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge, and Ducks Unlimited.

New York State Secretary of State, Randy A. Daniels, attended an Earth Day celebration at the restoration site to recognize the efforts of Ducks Unlimited, the Post-Morrow Foundation and other members of the Beaver Dam Creek Task Force. Secretary Daniels presented a certificate of recognition to the Task Force for its restoration efforts in the Beaver Dam Creek watershed, and participated in a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony. The Task Force is comprised of federal, state, and local governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions.

NYDU Chair John Cushman (left) and NYS Secretary of State Randy Daniels at the Earth Day Celebration.
Prior to restoration, several feet of dredge spoil covered some areas of the marsh (left). The return of natural hydrology patterns has allowed for native salt marsh vegetation to become reestablished, both through planting and growth from existing seed sources (right). The planted areas were fenced to prevent predation of the young plants.

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