Community and Urban Science Enrichment Water Stewards Program

Project Name: Cooks Beach Oyster Reef Restoration Project: Phase II, Delaware Bay, Cape May County, NJ.
Project Purpose: To complete the 3rd intertidal oyster reef at Cooks Beach in Cape May County, NJ that will assist in attenuating waves, keep the 4.5 acres of sand placed during our restoration in 2019 in place, provide further ecological uplift for shorebirds, horseshoe crabs, and other marine/estuarine species, and improve resiliency of the habitat and surrounding community with project completion as designed.

Brief Description: Over the past six years, the American Littoral Society and its partners have placed over 211,000 cubic yards of sand and restored 8 important beaches (74.5 acres) on the Delaware Bay post-Hurricane Sandy that are known to support horseshoe crab spawning and provide needed forage habitat for the federally-listed red knot and other shorebirds. To better ensure these restorations have improved longevity, we have also added an offshore intertidal, shelled living shoreline component to each restoration that keeps the sand on the beach longer, attenuates waves, and provides habitat for juvenile fish and benthic organisms. In 2019, it was estimated that 29,000 of the 31,000 red knots that visited the bay, fattened up on our restored beaches before heading north to their Artic nesting grounds. Sustaining the restored habitat value of these beaches by attenuating wave through the installation of intertidal oyster reefs as designed is paramount.

In 2019, we were able to add approximately 5,000 cy of coarse-grained sand to Cooks Beach, improve the height of the berm to prevent overwash into the marsh, and in August 2019, we were able to create a series of intertidal oyster reefs offshore. Unfortunately, we were only able to install 1,000 lf of the 1,200 lf as designed. Initial reef restoration work on this project involved the placement of over 7,500 bags of shell at three locations along the beach, all placed by hand with help from volunteers, partners, and staff. Originally, it was determined that 7,500 bags of shell would be adequate in reaching project goals. Yet, during the implementation phase, Stockton University’s Coastal Research Center (CRC) determined that we would need more shell than expected to reach target elevations and current funding was expended. We were only able to complete approximately 83%as designed. To complete the reef, we need an additional 1,700 shell bags. The construction of this project can be completed by April 2020.

Resource Values/Project Outputs: Improved resiliency; minimized erosion and sand loss; improved restoration longevity; combatting sea level rise and climate change with oyster reefs; science-based restoration technique that has a proven track record through our past restorations and can be applied Bay-wide programmatically, project messaging and outreach; improved habitat for fish and wildlife; community engagement.

Cost/Budget: $250,000.00 provided through NFWF Resiliency grant
Schedule: Spring 2020 if awarded.
Permit Status: In place. Project is shovel ready.
List of Partners: USFWS, American Littoral Society, Stockton University, NJDEP, Atlantic Capes Fisheries, and Wildlife Restoration Partnership LLC

What is requested from the CWRP/Contribution: $10,000.00.
Point of Contact: Captain Alek Modjeski, 732-291-0055, alek@littoralsociety.org

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Source: Esri, DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, USDA, USGS, AeroGRID, IGN, and the GIS User Community

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The Cape May roads layer were retrieved from the Office of Geographic Information Systems (OGIS).

The USGS Quad layer was obtained from ESRI.

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