In developing the Strategy, much attention was given to the need and process for
carrying out large-scale restoration activities. SAV acreage in Chesapeake Bay
in 2003 was 61,691 acres, barely a third of the CBP’s established goal of
There are regions within Chesapeake Bay including areas of the Patuxent River,
in which habitat conditions are suitable for SAV growth, but a lack of adequate
seed or propagule sources are likely to be limiting SAV establishment. It is
likely that if significant numbers of plants can be established in dense,
protected beds, the combination of physical protection and the benefits
of self-protection may enable the establishment of substantial areas of
self-sustaining habitat. Such beds would generate large numbers of seeds. Even
if plant losses occur, it is likely that our understanding of the physical and
chemical processes in this river will further our understanding of the science
irrespective of the percent survival in each planted area.
In the past two decades, there have been a wide variety of both small-scale (< 1
acre) and medium-scale (about one acre) SAV transplanting efforts with both
adult plants and seeds in Chesapeake Bay and the Delmarva coastal bays. Many
previous projects have suffered from improper siting and infrequent or poorly
documented follow-up visits to determine the success or failure of plantings.
Restoration locations have typically been based as much on logistics and
practicality as on data from habitat assessments.
To address these issues, the Strategy calls for targeted, large-scale projects
that are implemented over a five-year time frame. The first two years of the
project are devoted to site selection. This involves applying existing habitat
information to identify general areas suitable for restoration and test
plantings at multiple sites. Once sites have been selected, the large-scale
planting or seeding actions are spread over a three-year period to minimize the
impacts of adverse weather conditions in any given year.
After a careful site selection process, the Maryland Department of Natural
Resources has undertaken this large-scale eelgrass seeding project at three
sites in the Patuxent River. Associated with the restoration is spatially and
temporally intensive habitat monitoring to characterize habitat conditions. In
addition, the project is also exploring the effects of seeding density, habitat
conditions, epiphytic growth, and predation on the success or failure of the
restored beds. As of April, 2005, 15.25 acres have been seeded with eelgrass,
and eelgrass seedlings have been documented in several locations.
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