Four Years After Sandy: Updates from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Last edited 09/05/2019

In the wake of Sandy’s destruction, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service received $167 million in federal funding to strengthen natural defenses and protect communities and wildlife along the Atlantic Coast from future storms.

As of October 2016, USFWS has:

  • Extracted more than 3,500 tons of hurricane debris from coastal marshes, beaches and forested areas;
  • Restored five badly eroded beaches on Delaware Bay in New Jersey, critical to horseshoe crabs and imperiled migratory bird species;
  • Completed solar and back-up power installations at seven national wildlife refuges;
  • Repaired buildings, roads, trails, fences, boardwalks and visitor/educational facilities at more than 20 national wildlife refuges;
  • Removed six dams, including Centreville Dam in Maryland, White Rock Dam in Rhode Island, Pond Lily and Hyde Pond Dams in Connecticut, Whittenton Dam in Massachusetts and Hughesville Dam in New Jersey; 
  • Treated more than 4,000 acres of invasive species along wetlands, rivers and marshes;
  • Installed more than 30,000 feet of living shoreline – a technique which uses natural elements to prevent shoreline erosion – at five sites in Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey;
  • Planted thousands of native plant plugs and seeds to restore wetlands and marshes;
  • Fixed four breaches, restored 9,000 feet of shoreline, planted 500,000 plugs of beach grass, seeded 1,000 acres of marsh seeded, and dredged 25 miles of channels at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge – one of the largest coastal restoration projects on the East Coast.

Over the next year, USFWS plans to:

  • Remove additional dams to improve aquatic connectivity and mitigate flood risk to nearby communities, including Bradford and Shady Lea Dams in RI, Bloede Dam in MD, Norton Mill and Flock Process Dams in CT, and West Britannia Dam in MA.
  • Continue developing region-wide science tools for assessing, prioritizing and modeling resiliency for coastal habitats such as salt marshes, submerged aquatic vegetation, tidal wetlands, waterways and beaches. 
  • Work with partners to develop metrics for measuring the social and economic benefits of restoration projects to people. Identifying how Sandy-funded projects support community resilience as well as ecological resilience is a key goal moving forward.


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