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 Potomac 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
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 Potomac River. Associated with the restoration is spatially and
temporally intensive habitat monitoring to characterize habitat conditions. As
of April, 2005, 21 acres have been seeded with eelgrass, and eelgrass seedlings
have been documented in several locations.
In addition to DNR's current large scale seed based restoration efforts, Maryland
will plant approximately 22 acres of bay grass at two other sites on the lower Potomac.
These plantings will serve as partial mitigation for destruction of grasses associated with construction
of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project in the upper tidal Potomac
River near Washington D.C. Sites for the mitigation project were identified
through two years of test plantings, making this one of the few sites in
Chesapeake Bay for which the two year site selection process required by the SAV
Strategy has been completed. The mitigation agreement requires that only
vegetative shoots (not seeds) be used for restoration. Therefore, our eelgrass
seeding project adjacent to these sites allows for direct comparison of the
effectiveness of vegetative shoots vs. seeding as methods of large-scale
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