Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, located in Kent County, Maryland, is a key stopover area for migratory waterfowl. Within the refuge boundary is an important stretch of water known as Hail Cove. Hail Cove is home to over 108 acres of submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) beds which are vital to supporting aquatic wildlife, including the foraging needs of migratory waterfowl. Aerial surveys conducted over the past 10 years by U.S. Fish and Wildlife staff revealed the gradual narrowing of a thin piece of land (isthmus) that separated Hail Cove from the Chester River. This isthmus was the only remaining protection for these critical SAV beds.
In 2009 Ducks Unlimited, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Waterfowl Festival and numerous other partners joined together to restore this shoreline in order to protect the SAV beds. The shoreline was restored through the installation of low profile segmented headland breakwaters, an oyster reef, and natural shoreline reconstruction. The stone structures reduce wave energy and protect the restored wetland habitat from future erosion. Native marsh grasses were planted by local area elementary students and other volunteers to help further stabilize the shoreline.
Ducks Unlimited would like to thank the partners involved in making this project a success. These efforts display how living shoreline projects and strong partnerships can effectively reduce shore erosion while protecting habitats critical for Chesapeake Bay wildlife.