Galloway Township is about one-third water, some fresh, some brackish some salty. Therefore, it is entirely appropriate that we should be in the conversation of wetland marsh stabilization, restoration, enhancement, new creation and mitigation banking.
What is all that about?
Well, we and our friends along the barrier islands have a lot in common and should work together to avoid any more loss of wetland marsh or vegetated dunes. Our marshes are not only nurseries for all types of marine life, but the absorbent sponge that takes in surge tide and stormwater then slowly lets it back out into the estuary and ocean.
These services are of quantities and qualities that we are just now learning how to measure.
In return for these valuable services, we have historically carved them up into ditches, used them as dump sites, filled them in for pavement and buildings, barricaded them off with dams and bulkheads, provided a barrage of boat wakes and caused compaction and erosion through salt hay harvesting, cattle grazing and agricultural crop introduction. The invasive phragmites may have gotten a foothold through the degradation of healthy, deep-rooted native marsh grasses with strong marsh edges.
Today, the damage caused by powerful storms, sea-level rise and the historical abuses of wetlands is staggering. That bad news we know. The better news is that we can do something about it.
Job number one is to stop the net loss of wetlands through better planning and zoning, smart engineering and enforcement of ordinances against destructive operations. Further, the restoration of marshes and creation of new acreage is necessary and doable. Wetland marsh edges can be increased, islands created and expanded, marginal areas converted to marsh. Areas that should never have been covered over can be bought out and converted to productive marsh rather than forever rebuilding with funds that are not limitless. It will be a lot cheaper and will create steady jobs to work with our natural storm defense infrastructure now and into the future.
The process of wetlands mitigation banking has been used successfully around the country and specifically in Atlantic County. Wetlands mitigation banking is the restoration, enhancement or creation of wetlands paid for by the sale of credits to developers who are disrupting wetlands elsewhere. They must buy enough credits to create or restore more wetlands than they are disturbing. When all of the credits are sold, that mitigation bank project is closed, becoming a fully functioning, maintained wetland on its own. An example to study in Atlantic County is the Lakes Creek Wetlands Mitigation Bank project in Egg Harbor Township, along the Great Egg Harbor River in the Scullville area. A new bridge construction project over nearby English Creek necessitated the destruction of some marsh area for expanded abutments. Please take time to study the Lakes Creek project online with their progress photos and aerial videos, perhaps even go to see how it looks today.
There are directions online and an interpretive sign by a small parking spot on the site.
We are never going to win against nature’s forces; we can only survive if we learn to live by nature’s rules. This is a way that we can show what we have learned.
Go Green Galloway is a volunteer organization dedicated to reducing the carbon footprint of Galloway through the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation, environmental education and the implementation of sustainable practices. We always welcome new volunteer members. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mary at 609-742-7076. Also be sure to like our Facebook page.