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ASCE Presents 2015 Innovation Award to Poplar Island Project

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) chose the Paul S. Sarbanes Ecosystem Restoration Project at Poplar Island in Maryland, as the winner of the 2015 Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award.

“This award is really about the partnership we have with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Maryland Port Administration Executive Director James J. White. “Together we created a sustainable approach to keep the shipping channels safe and navigable, while restoring the environment and providing opportunities to observe wildlife in its natural setting within the Chesapeake Bay.”

The Port of Baltimore’s bay shipping channels had excess dredged material that needed placement, and erosion and tidal changes had eliminated thousands of acres of remote island habitat in the Chesapeake.

“These two things kind of came together. That’s the beauty of this project,” said Callahan, who served as project manager for the Corps. “The Corps and MPA found the perfect beneficial use of dredge material. We’re losing this valuable habitat; we need a place to put this dredge material. Voila – you have Poplar Island.”

ASCE’s Innovation in Sustainable Engineering Award was established in 1981 and updated in 2010 to focus on honoring engineering projects that implement and demonstrate creative applications of sustainability.

The Poplar Island restoration took more than a decade to complete and was constructed almost completely from material dredged from the Port of Baltimore’s Bay shipping channels. It includes armored dikes, dredging, and dredged-material placement and grading.

The wetlands and uplands provide remoteisland terrain essential for the wildlife that calls the largest estuary in the United States – the Chesapeake Bay – home. Already, nationally protected American black ducks, Maryland state-listed endangered common terns, and Maryland state-listed threatened least terns are nesting on the island

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