Red knots feed on crab eggs along the shore at Reeds Beach in Middle Township. Habitats for migratory shorebirds such as red knots were severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Staff file photo by Dale Gerhard, May 15, 2006

Restoring migratory shorebird habitat that was damaged during Hurricane Sandy likely will cost nearly $50 million, according to a report released Thursday by several conservation groups.

The report, published by the the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, identified several dozen projects between North Carolina and Cape Cod as necessary for restoring habitat as well as protecting existing habitat from future storms. The report also recommends policy and infrastructure changes to plan for future storms.

“Hurricane Sandy did significant damage to some long-term conservation work,” Stephen Brown, director of Manomet’s Shorebird Science Division, said in a news release. “Important habitats for high priority species have been altered by this storm. Areas that were being managed for conservation took a big hit.”

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Nearly $30 million of the proposed projects are within the Delaware Bay region, including more than $10 million to repair the beach along the bay in Middle Township, between Reeds Beach and Pierce’s Point. This section is one of several places in the Delaware Bay known for attracting hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs that lay eggs every spring. The horseshoe crab eggs serve as an important food source for migratory shorebirds, including the Red Knot.

Other projects listed in the report include $400,000 to build protective oyster reefs in parts of the Delaware Bay, $1.5 million to rebuild five miles of dikes in the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area and $300,000 for New Jersey, Delaware and New York to develop new wildlife rules for sand bars.

The recommended projects in the report were developed by coastal biologists from federal, state and private groups, the report stated. Costs for the recommended projects or policy changes in the report are estimates, the report said.

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