Mid-Atlantic Coast

Level II Ducks Unlimited conservation priority area, popular wintering area for waterfowl, including the declining American black duck

© Kim Taylor

The Mid-Atlantic Coast contains several very significant areas for waterfowl, hence DU's involvement: the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, New Jersey coast and Long Island. Barrier beaches and dunes, submerged aquatic vegetation, intertidal sand and mudflats, salt marsh islands, fringing tidal marshes and maritime forest characterize these highly productive shallow water and adjacent upland habitats. Maintaining or improving water quality and waterfowl habitat in the Chesapeake Bay and other Mid-Atlantic estuaries will be challenging given the projected regional growth in human populations and climate change impacts.

Importance to waterfowl

  • The Mid-Atlantic Coast provides wintering habitat for at least 20 species of waterfowl including about: 70 percent of black ducks, 80 percent of Atlantic brant, 80 percent of greater snow geese and 80 percent of Atlantic and North Atlantic Flyway populations of Canada geese.
  • Historically important to wintering diving ducks.
  • Delaware Bay wetlands are a major staging area for 80 percent of the Atlantic flyway population of snow geese.
  • The region also supports breeding populations of wood ducks, black ducks and mallards.

Habitat issues

  • Mid-Atlantic Coast mapAmerican black duck populations have declined by as much as 60 percent on the wintering grounds due to habitat degradation.
  • Sea level rise may reduce the amount of suitable shallow water habitat.
  • Changing climate also may affect stream flows that could alter local salinity, nutrient loading and aquatic food webs.
  • Major habitat losses as a result of heavy industrial, transportation, recreational and urban development.

DU's conservation focus

  • Restore and protect ecological functions of coastal watersheds.
  • Work toward long-term protection of already restored areas.
  • Concentrate conservation activities within targeted watersheds to restore buffers, via wetland restoration, to provide clean water.
  • Provide technical assistance and landowner education.
  • Identify and prioritize key research and evaluation needs.
  • Establish outreach programs on the importance of wetland values.

States in the Mid-Atlantic Coast region

Delaware | MarylandNew Jersey | New York
Pennsylvania | Virginia | West Virginia