Section of swamp along the Pocomoke River floodplain restoration.
Pocomoke Reflections Section of swamp along the Pocomoke River floodplain restoration. © Matt Kane / TNC

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Nature Briefs

MARYLAND

Aerial view of the Pocomoke River floodplain restoration site showing breaches cut into earthen berms to reconnect the river to its floodplain.
Pocomoke Restoration Aerial view of the Pocomoke River floodplain restoration site showing breaches cut into earthen berms to reconnect the river to its floodplain. © Severn Smith / TNC. Aerial support provided by LightHawk.

Nearly a century ago, the Pocomoke River was channelized to turn sodden soil into farmland. But without wetlands to filter stormwater, farm runoff flowed into the Chesapeake Bay, reducing water quality and jeopardizing marine life. In 2017, The Nature Conservancy and partners began reconnecting the first 9 miles of an 18-mile degraded stretch of the Pocomoke to its natural floodplain to slow and filter water before it reaches the bay.

To be successful, all of the pieces—and landowners—had to fall into place. The Conservancy engaged each stakeholder to develop a plan. The restoration focused on excavating breaks in the manmade bank, moving water onto both public and private lands.

Monitoring shows that water quality is improving, and data on the floodplain’s storage and filtration processes are helping to refine future restoration designs—including work on the remaining 9 miles. “What’s really impactful is the scale of the project and knowing the restoration is permanent,” says Amy Jacobs, a TNC sustainable agriculture program director. “It’s going to provide benefits long into the future.”  


 

UTAH

A floating barrier collects debris before it reaches wetlands surrounding Utah's Great Salt Lake.
Jordan River trash boom Taking out the trash: When the boom is full, county employees take the debris to a recycling facility or landfill. © Chris Brown/TNC

From television sets to volleyballs to countless bits of plastic, the discarded junk that washes down the Jordan River into Utah’s Great Salt Lake is harmful for wildlife and people. Because the lake is a critical stopover on the Pacific Flyway, migratory birds in particular are at risk of ingesting or becoming entangled in debris.

The Nature Conservancy and Salt Lake County came up with a straightforward solution: a floating barrier called a boom to collect trash before it reaches the wetlands surrounding the lake. Since it was installed last year, more than 52 tons of trash—a weight equivalent to about 26 minivans—have been removed from the river. The boom’s success is inspiring similar projects along the Jordan River and other waterways.