The remnants of the original Poplar Island consisted of clusters of low, marshy knolls and tidal mudflats. Using these remnants, engineers first constructed more than 35,000 feet of containment dikes using sand, rock and stone. Within the dikes, clean dredged material is pumped in and allowed to properly drain to maximize the island’s placement capacity. The project is designed to contain about 68 million cubic yards of material over the 28-year life of the project.
The dry material is then shaped to create 1,715 acres of island habitat. The eastern half of Poplar Island, 737 acres, will be created into tidal wetlands, including low high marsh areas, habitat islands and open water pools. The western half of the island, 840 acres will be created into upland habitats, including forests and meadows and approximately 138 acres of open water embayment leading into wetlands. Shortly after the first dredged material was placed on the island, in the spring of 2001, ospreys, egrets, terns, herons, eagles, terrapins and other wildlife began to call the newly created island home.
Over time, other important ecological changes will occur. As the wetlands mature, they will serve as a natural filter to improve water quality and as valuable habitat for birds, crabs, small fish and shellfish. Extensive engineering work has gone into the wetland development and the effort contributes significantly to the restoration goals for the Chesapeake Bay.