Preliminary Assessment Estimates Sandy Damage to Coastline Habitat
An assessment, just issued jointly by the Mamomet Center for Conservation Sciences and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, provides an early insight into the damage to coastal habitat caused by Hurricane Sandy, which crashed into the eastern seaboard in October. The “Hurricane Sandy Rapid Assessment” compiled data from coastal biologists and land managers from federal, state, and private organizations in the days following the storm. The report (pdf) identifies some $50 million in immediate habitat and species protection projects which will be needed to mitigate the damage.
According to the report,
Hurricane Sandy moved massive amounts of coastal sediments with the extreme power of storm-driven water, changing barrier landscapes, eroding important bird nesting islands, and blowing out dikes of impoundments managed specifically for breeding, migrating, and wintering shorebirds, seabirds, wading birds, and waterfowl. Important habitats for high priority species like Piping Plover, Red Knot, American Black Duck, Tri-colored Heron, Least Bittern, and American Oystercatcher have been altered by this storm.
The report suggests several immediate and fundamental restoration needs along the coastline:
- Rebuild and stabilize critical waterbird nesting islands;
- Immediate repair to access sites for management of conservation lands;
- Assess and repair water control structures and pumps for managed wetlands;
- Enhance stewardship capacity on beaches to protect newly created nesting habitat;
- Clear debris and hazardous material from important waterbird habitat where possible; and
- Develop and deliver Best Management Practices (BMPs) for federal and local coastal managers.
Overall cost estimate for projects in the report totaled $48.7 million.