Mispillion Harbor Restoration Nears Completion

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A project designed to build habitats for horseshoe crabs and red knots at the Mispillion Harbor is nearing completion and Jeremy Ashe, Habitat Restoration Project Manager, discusses the project in a video released on YouTube in May 2017.

“The main reason for doing the project is because the Mispillion Harbor is important habitat for the red knot, a shorebird that was recently listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” Mr. Ashe said. “The harbor’s sandy beach habitat has been eroding as a result of repeated storms and coastal flooding, including Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A breach at the north end of the harbor was threatening to erode the remaining habitat and change the flow of water through the navigation channel.” Mr. Ashe said that the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation made funding available through the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program in 2014 after DNREC submitted a grant application to restore habitat in the harbor.

Mr. Ashe says that the Mispillion Harbor is one of the most important stopover sites in the Delaware Bay for migratory shorebirds because the beaches consistently have an overabundance of horseshoe crab eggs even when erratic spring weather makes spawning difficult on other beaches in the Bay.

“Spawning of horseshoe crabs is initiated by water temperatures of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit and calm surf conditions,” Mr. Ashe said. “The water temperatures in the harbor typically warm up earlier compared to the open waters of the bay, and the surf tends to be calm despite spring winds and storms that cause rough surf along bayfront beaches. Mispillion Harbor is truly a harbor of refuge for shorebirds and this restoration project will ensure the harbor continues to support recovery of the red knot population.

According to the video, the project is approximately 90 percent completed, but they must halt work temporarily due to time of year restrictions identified before the project began. These restrictions are designed to minimize or avoid disturbances in the environment and to species in the area, including the red knot and horseshoe crabs. The project halted on April 15 and will resume on August 1, 2017. It is anticipated the project will be completed in December 2017.

“The local area benefits from this type of project because the restoration project draws visitors from all over the world to witness the spring shorebird migration and spawning horseshoe crabs,” Mr. Ashe said. “Visitors spend money locally in restaurants, shops and hotels as well as other types of lodging. Additionally, the restoration project protects the navigation channels of the Mispillion River and Cedar Creek, which both provide recreational boating access to the Delaware Bay as well as access for Delaware Launch Service which is based in Cedar Creek and provides services to shipping vessels using the main channel to ports in Wilmington, Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey.”

The video about the project with detailed information is available online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WvwO3kjqtU.

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