Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project at Barren Island, Dorchester County, Maryland

Published July 27, 2020

All Interested Parties: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Baltimore District in partnership with the Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA), the project’s non-federal sponsor, is preparing a supplemental environmental assessment (sEA) for the Barren Island component of the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project. Barren Island is an element of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project recommends remote island restoration at James Island and Barren Island, both on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and in Dorchester County, MD, through the beneficial use of dredged material. Section 7002 of Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 authorized the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project, as described in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief's Report, dated August 24, 2009 (https://planning.erdc.dren.mil/toolbox/library/ChiefReports/mid_chesapeake.pdf) and the Mid- Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), dated June 2009. The record of decision was signed in July 2019 initiating the next phase of the study, Preconstruction, Engineering, and Design (PED). As part of the PED effort, USACE will be preparing a supplemental EA to update documentation for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, focused on the Barren Island component of the project. A similar action will be undertaken at a future time for the James Island component.

The authorized project consists of restoring Barren Island (72 acres), which is 100 percent wetland, in combination with the restoration of James Island (2,072 acres), with a habitat proportion of 45 percent upland to 55 percent wetland and an upland dike height of 20 feet above mean lower low water. The project will restore a combined 2,144 acres of remote island habitat, while also protecting approximately 1,325 acres of potential submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) adjacent to Barren Island. Restoration of the islands will occur by the beneficial use of approximately 90 to 95 million cubic yards (MCY) of dredged material over a period of more than 30 years. The sources of the dredged material are the federal navigation channels in the Maryland portion of the Chesapeake Bay serving Baltimore Harbor and the southern Chesapeake and Delaware Canal approach channels. Detailed information on the specific components of the project can be found in the recommended plan section and engineering appendix of the Final Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration Integrated Feasibility Report & Environmental
Impact Statement (EIS), dated September 2008 (and updated in April 2009). These documents, as well as additional information about the project, are available online at www.nab.usace.army.mil/mid-bay.

The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of the start of this assessment and to request any information that may affect the planning and design of the restoration actions at Barren Island. We request that federal and state agencies provide information concerning interests within your organization’s area of responsibility or expertise, and the public provide information which may be pertinent to this project, within 30 days from the date of this notice to the point of contact listed below. A timely review of the enclosed information and a written response will be greatly appreciated and will assist us with preparation of the supplemental EA.

Additionally, we are requesting interested stakeholders to provide an email address to enable future electronic communications. Any email addresses provided will be used solely to communicate project information. If you have any questions regarding this project please contact Angela Sowers by phone at (410) 962-7440, or by e-mail at angela.sowers@usace.army.mil, Subject: Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration: Barren Island EA. If you would like to provide an email address to be included in the project stakeholder list, please complete the form on the Mid-Chesapeake Bay Islands Ecosystem Restoration Project website - www.nab.usace.army.mil/mid-bay