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

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District
Published Jan. 16, 2023
Expiration date: 2/11/2023

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 Borrow Area 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 September 2008 (and updated in April 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 prepared and completed a supplemental EA on March 7, 2022, to update documentation for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, as amended, focused on the Barren Island component of the project. A supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is underway for the James Island component.
The authorized project consists of restoring approximately 83 acres at Barren Island 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 for placement at James Island 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. The source of dredged material to be placed at Barren Island will be local federally-maintained navigation 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 a supplemental EA specifically focused on identifying a borrow area from which to dredge sand for use in restoration efforts as part of the overall restoration at Barren Island. Two locations, a northern and a southern borrow area are being considered (enclosure). USACE is requesting any information that may affect the planning and design efforts being conducted to evaluate the Barren Island borrow areas. 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 Borrow Area sEA. 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.