Beaches and dunes provide critical storm protection infrastructure to coastal communities and are also critical habitat for numerous wildlife species, including the federally listed red knot and piping plover and other species of conservation concern. Each of these species depends on dynamic elements of waves, flooding and wind which create disturbances that maintain key habitat features. While coastal protection projects may replenish beaches and dunes, they often use designs that maximize stability and shoreline protection at the expense of wildlife habitat. For example, many species depend on vegetation-free areas, while the goal for constructed dunes is often to achieve high vegetation coverage as quickly as possible. Our project is designed to reconcile these potentially competing objectives by developing low-cost recurrent wildlife habitat management strategies that can be employed in concert with beach and dune replenishment projects. We have tested one of these management approaches by conducting small-scale back passing of sand to manage for high-elevation nesting and roosting areas for beach nesting birds and shorebirds.
Project partners: New Jersey Audubon, Stockton Coastal Research Center, New Jersey Endangered and Non-game Species Program, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, The Wetlands Institute.