The Restoration Center (RC) has a long history in the restoration science project underway at Barren Island. Barren Island is one of the few remaining mid-Bay islands. Most of the islands have been lost to a combination of erosion, sea-level rise and land subsidence. The island is part of the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and is accessible principally by boat only. The proximity of the island and its habitats make it important as estuarine wetlands for fish and shellfish usage, and the island itself is a productive rookery for numerous waterfowl. Restoration work at the island is aimed at restoring the myriad of functions that these wetlands are valued for (refuge habitat, food source, erosion protection, water quality filter, etc.).
Barren Island has regularly been used as a dredge material placement site in the past, but typically without any shoreline containment. In 1996, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Baltimore District (COME) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Annapolis Field Office (F'S) attempted to utilize geotextile tubes filled with sand to anchor dredged material placed along the shoreline. The RC the provided on-the-ground implementation funds and technical expertise to plant and stabilize the shoreline and then to monitor the site. In the beginning, many of the geotextile tubes failed due to decomposition of the material and because they were set too low in the water. For this reason, the plantings did not survive the high wave action. In 1999, the COME began repeating the shoreline project with new tube material and better initial elevations, and the material placement was completed in 2000. The unplanted site material consolidated for one year, and held up well to natural events. New work at Barren Island will be aimed at improving this new wetland restoration technology and is expected to utilize expertise and funding from many agencies concerned with protecting our national wetlands. The work at Barren Islands is a classic example of the value of the national partnerships within the Community-Based Restoration Program.