Assateague Island National Seashore Participates in Hurricane Sandy Projects
Contact: Bill Hulslander, 410-629-6061
Contact: Rachelle Daigneault, 410-629-6088
Berlin, Maryland – It has been a year since Hurricane Sandy made an unwelcomed visit to the Delmarva Peninsula. While recovery has been ongoing, there are lessons to be learned that can help community and park managers better prepare for these events in the future. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Interior and local officials at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey recently to announce that $162 million will be invested in 45 restoration and research projects that will better protect Atlantic Coast communities from future powerful storms, by restoring marshes, wetlands and beaches, rebuilding shorelines, and researching the impacts and modeling mitigation of storm surge impacts. Assateague Island National Seashore will participate in four projects along with other public and private lands. The Projects total $10,000,000.
“The critical scientific information gathered from these projects will enable coastal communities and parks to anticipate future challenges caused by storms and evaluate our responses,” said Superintendent Debbie Darden. “Coastal resiliency is our ultimate goal.”
Assateague will take part in the following projects:
The investments are consistent with President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Strategy Report and the Administration’s commitment laid out in the Climate Action Plan to build resilience by restoring natural features along shorelines to help better protect communities from future storms. The Department of the Interior has already invested $480 million in Hurricane Sandy response and recovery efforts since the storm hit last October.
Assateague Island experienced significant impacts from Hurricane Sandy. Flooding closed large areas of the park for weeks. The storm surge and resultant overwash damaged parking areas along both ocean and bay sides of the island. The cycling/pedestrian bridge crossing to the island from the mainland was undermined. Campgrounds, trails, boardwalks, and other visitor facilities were also damaged by waves and storm surge. Despite the damage to park infrastructure, Hurricane Sandy also created significant new barrier island habitat, serving as a reminder that intense coastal storms are part of the natural coastal processes that continue to shape and move Assateague Island.
This funding provides $113 million for 25 on-the-ground projects to restore coastal marshes, wetlands and shoreline, create habitat connectivity, improve flood resilience and undertake other efforts to protect nearby areas from future storms. An additional $45 million is being invested in assessments, modeling, coastal barrier mapping, and other projects to provide Federal, State, and local land managers and decision makers the information and tools they need to improve resiliency and prepare for future storms.
A Technical Review Panel of ten experts from eight Interior bureaus and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration evaluated all 94 submitted projects totaling a requested $541 million. Using a framework developed by Interior’s Strategic Sciences Group, the panel scored each project within the Sandy impact area based on the ability to strengthen Federal assets and build coastal resilience to withstand future storms. Projects were selected based on their ability to provide measurable restoration outcomes and resilience benefits or useful data or management tools in a short timeframe. A priority was given to projects that will employ youth and veterans.
A list of all 45 approved projects can be found HERE.
Jewell also announced that the Department would issue a Request for Proposals on October 29 for an additional $100 million in grant funding under the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program announced in August. States, local communities, non-profit organizations and other partners can compete for funding for innovative projects under the program, which is being administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Information on the competition can be found at http://www.doi.gov/hurricanesandy.
“What we witnessed during Hurricane Sandy was that our public lands and other natural areas are often the best defense against Mother Nature,” Jewell said. “By stabilizing marshes and beaches, restoring wetlands, and improving the resiliency of coastal areas, we not only create opportunities for people to connect with nature and support jobs through increased outdoor recreation, but we can also provide an effective buffer that protects local communities from powerful storm surges and devastating floods when a storm like Sandy hits.”
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at http://www.nps.gov.
Did You Know?
Prickly pear cactus is native to dry, sandy areas on Assateague Island. American Indians applied peeled pads to wounds and drank pad tea for lung ailments. Fruits were eaten fresh or dried for winter use.