Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration

Maryland Environmental Service (MES) and Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA) are conducting the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration Project to document the existing aquatic and terrestrial resources located in and around Barren and James Islands in Dorchester County, MD. James Island is located at the mouth of the Little Choptank River. Barren Island is just offshore from the Honga River. Data from this project will be used to establish baseline conditions that will be used to assess potential ecological improvements and/or impacts to existing resources as a result of planned environmental restoration projects.

Coastal Resources, Inc. is a subconsultant on this project to document the existing conditions located in and around Barren and James Islands, including benthic macroinvertebrates, water quality, sediment, fisheries, birds, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV), and commercial crab pot usage.  CRI is assisting with all sampling efforts being conducted seasonally between the spring of 2020 and the spring of 2021. 

Water quality and benthic community samples are being collected from the same locations, with 11 locations at James Island and 11 locations at Barren Island. Triplicate benthic macroinvertebrate samples are collected by CRI at each location using a standard Ponar grab to characterize the benthic community. Benthic macroinvertebrate data are used to calculate the Chesapeake Bay B-IBI, which uses several metrics to assess and characterize the benthic community conditions.  CRI is also assisting with fisheries surveys and identification, including gill nets, beach seines, bottom trawls, and pop nets. 

To quantify bird presence and use of the islands, CRI is conducting avian surveys at 10 locations in the spring and summer seasons using a basic point count quantitative survey. At each location, two 15-minute timed observations are conducted to provide a survey of the entire 360° viewshed.  CRI also conducted sampling to evaluate existing SAV conditions in spring 2020 to identify the maximum extent of horned pondweed (Zannichellia palustris) and eelgrass (Zostera marina). Quantitative methods were used including ¼ meter square quadrat frames randomly sampled along transects.


Dorchester County, MD

Client :

Maryland Environmental Service (MES)

Key Services:

  • Estuarine Benthic Macroinvertebrate Collection
  • Water Quality and Sediment Sampling
  • Fisheries Studies
  • Avian Studies
  • Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Surveys
  • Crab Pot Surveys
  • Chesapeake Bay B-IBI