A new study conducted by The Nature Conservancy and funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped land managers and agencies identify coastal strongholds.
Coastal strongholds are areas that, because of their unique topographies, elevations and landforms, give threatened habitats in Delaware a chance to escape rising sea levels and continue to provide vital services to people and wildlife.
The study also offers land managers a tool to gather comprehensive data — such as water quality, important wildlife areas, sediment and soil nitrogen levels — that can be used to develop targeted conservation plans across Delaware that will have the better chance of protecting coasts and communities against rising sea levels.
Among the strongholds identified in Delaware are the Milford Neck Wildlife Area including The Nature Conservancy’s Milford Neck Preserve, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge, Collins Creek and other undeveloped areas along Delaware’s Bayshore. The Bayshore extends from New Castle to Lewes, east of Route 1 along the Delaware Bay.
With sea levels projected to rise from one foot to as much as six feet by the next century, many coastal habitats — such as tidal marshes, sandy beaches and sea grass beds — could disappear under rising waters. Scientists say Delaware’s strongholds provide escape routes, allowing threatened habitats to migrate inland and survive sea level rise. The authors of the study, however, warn that man-made development and pollution could cut off escape routes and lead to habitats being drowned out of existence.
Read the full study, “Resilient Coastal Sites for Conservation in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic US,” at bit.ly/2hMyzJZ.