Project components include realignment of a portion of the federal navigation channel in Sheep Pen Gut through dredging; construction of two jetties to prevent shoaling in the channel and to reduce the continual need for dredging of material; and creation of a stone sill along the shoreline to prevent further erosion and contain the dredged material from the project.
This project increases navigational clearance, so boaters don’t run aground due to the shoaling in the area, and it provides boaters from the Smith Island towns of Rhodes Point and Tylerton with more direct access to the Chesapeake Bay. The navigation improvements are anticipated to have long-term beneficial impacts to the local economy, navigation, recreational boaters and safety.
Secondary benefits from the project include shoreline protection and restoration. Native vegetation will be planted on the placed dredged material in spring/summer 2019 to restore and enhance about 5 acres of wetlands. In addition, approximately 10 acres of existing wetlands south of the federal channel behind the newly-restored acres will be protected. This will aid the protection of the larger wetland system and provide habitat for local animals and vegetative resources.
* Click to enlarge images below on the project plan and the dredged material placement plan.
- The federal channel at the mouth of Sheep Pen Gut was dredged to its authorized level, providing 6 feet of navigational clearance. Dredging wrapped up in November 2018.
- The realignment extends the existing authorized channel by approximately 425 feet northwestward, facilitating better access to the Bay. The federal channel is now 1,900 feet long in total, extending from within the mouth of Sheep Pen Gut into the Chesapeake Bay. The channel is approximately 50 feet wide from the mouth of Sheep Pen Gut toward the Bay for 1,750 feet. The last 150 feet into the Bay is approximately 100 feet wide.
- The north and south jetties are approximately 650 feet and 1,150 feet long, respectively. Both are about 50 feet wide at their bases and 6 feet wide at their crests. Construction of the jetties was completed in summer 2018.
- The stone sill was constructed along 850 feet of eroding shoreline south of the mouth of Sheep Pen Gut. It is 30 feet wide at its base and built to an elevation of 3 feet Mean Lower Low Water. The sill design includes windows or "notches" to allow for interaction between the tide and marsh. Sill construction was completed in summer 2018.
- Approximately 24,000 cubic yards of clean dredged material from the project, consisting primarily of sand and silt, was placed behind the stone sill to restore wetlands and increase shoreline resiliency.
- Planting on the dredged material will occur in spring/summer 2019.