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Governor O’Malley, Partners Tour Skimmer Island Restoration Project

Improvements Restore Nesting Habitat for Two Endangered Species

Worcester County, Md. (June 29, 2011) - Governor Martin O’Malley, Maryland State Senator Jim Mathias, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan and Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary John Griffin today toured a sand dredging and replenishment project at Skimmer Island, which is restoring the Island’s size and safeguarding habitat for endangered wildlife. Governor O’Malley was also joined by Coastal Bays Program Executive Director Dave Wilson, DNR staff and Coastal Stewards, members of a summer youth employment program, for an informational tour of the island’s renovations.

“Maryland’s Coastal Bays are extraordinary natural, cultural and economic resources,” said Governor O’Malley. “Replenishing areas such as Skimmer Island not only restores important wildlife habitat for endangered species, but also retains our State’s unique heritage for future generations.”

During late March and early April, Skimmer Island was nourished with 675 cubic yards of clean sand as part of a public-private partnership between DNR and Sunset Marina in West Ocean City to restore important nesting habitat for wildlife, including the State-endangered black skimmer and royal tern. The island has seen a significant decline in size from 7 acres in 1998 to just over 2 acres last winter.

Skimmer Island serves as important habitat for a variety of birds and land mammals that are expected to see resurgence through this project. During the 2011 breeding season, black skimmers and royal terns returned to nest on Skimmer Island. The island also contains the most important nesting beach for horseshoe crabs in Maryland.

“Skimmer Island is the single most important and valuable piece of barren sand nesting habitat for colonial nesting waterbirds such as the Black Skimmer and Royal Tern in Maryland,” said DNR ecologist David Brinker. “The partnership between Sunset Marina and the State of Maryland to restore Skimmer Island seeks to maintain this important area.”

Coastal Stewards will assist with monitoring nesting activity of herons, egrets and ibis on the Island this summer. The Coastal Stewards program is designed to increase environmental literacy, provide hands-on experience in environmental education and outreach and teach green job skills.

The island is one of two large heron nesting and breeding habitats in Worcester County, serving as a valuable eco-tourism site that attracts many bird watchers to Ocean City throughout the year.

“Projects such as this one are badly needed, both by the conservation and business communities,” said Dave Wilson, executive director of the Coastal Bays Program. “The economic benefit provided by eco-tourism makes this private-public partnership a win-win for tax payers.”

The nourishment project is set to continue over the next several years.


   June 29, 2011

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly a half-million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov