HRPDC staff had the opportunity to attend the Marsh Resilience Summit on February 5 and 6, 2019 at the picturesque Woodlands Hotel in Williamsburg. The summit, which was hosted by the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative, was designed to be a conversation among local governments, researchers, and managers in coastal Virginia and Maryland. Presenters from both states emphasized the value of marshes, or tidal wetlands as they are sometimes called, and explained their role in our environment. Marshes act as buffers, by protecting the land from rising seas, and act as filters, by trapping pollutants in stormwater runoff before they can reach the waterway.
Representatives from around Hampton Roads, including researchers from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS), legal analysts from the Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC), and on-ground-implementers from the Elizabeth River Project explained that marshes are always moving with the tides and rising sea levels. As they migrate inland, marshes take over forests, agricultural fields, and even neighborhood backyards.
We heard presentations on a variety of topics linking marsh conservation and coastal resilience. One interesting concept is to use dredged materials to increase marsh elevation through a process called vertical accretion. Thin layer placement is a method used to build up marshes by spraying a thin layer of clean dredged sediment from nearby waterways back onto the shoreline.
We appreciate the Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative for gathering these leaders together and look forward to future Marsh Resilience Summits.