Reports from Stone Harbor Point by Larry Niles, LJ Niles and Associates LLC - 2015
Taken from the bridge connecting Stone Harbor and North Wildwood, this photo coveys the feeling of operating large machines on a tiny peninsula surrounded by the sea.
We cleaned up the last of the work today and this phase of the project is done.
Our goal today was to finish the resiliency dune and lay the overpass road that would serve as access to the point. The work would bury the existing road, so both jobs needed to be completed today to restore access to the point.
Our resiliency dune now connects to the existing Army Corp constructed dune thus completing the protection from storm surge from the South. As the name implies the overpass road rides over the top of the new dune and does not compromise its effectiveness against storm surge
By 400PM the dune and overpass were done. JR, Boomer and Phil Heun brought in their equipment transport and by 430 the construction phase of the Stone Harbor Shorebird and Beach nester Project was complete.
Tom Baxter and I did his routine survey together this morning and saw no piping plovers although birds have been reported nearby. We did see three pairs of very territorial oystercatchers.
At long last our habitat work is complete. Yesterday Boomer, JR and Vicki ran machines to apply the finishing touches to the habitat we worked so hard to complete over the last two months.
In these last days our work centered on how to finish the three habitats so that they would be most appealing to piping plovers, oystercatchers and the colonially nesting least terns and skimmers. The data available to us, which is admittedly small, suggests a relatively smooth area with about 20% shell cover. The shell provides both camouflage for the nests, which are simply depressions in a sea of sand, thus providing the cover of anonymity or hiding in plain site. The eggs, a variation on the color of sea worn shell and sand, hide better in a beach strewn with shell.
The photos below are from the Southeast US. One can see a piping plover nest in serious shell cover.
Normally shell washes ashore, as any beachcomber knows, and it collects where the sea occasionally sweeps over the upper beach. Naturally the density varies from about 5% to 80 % but some data suggests 10-20% is best for nesting cover. With nearly 40,000 lbs of shell to spread we needed to use a front end loader to gently distribute the shell while riding over a bumpy habitat.
The photo below shows the shell after front end loader application.
The Borough Council of Stone Harbor visited our project on Monday, including Mayor Suzanne Walters and council members Barry Mastrangelo, Joan Kramar, and Joselyn Rich, who also chairs the town Natural Resources Committee. We are grateful to the towns unqualified support for the project - it speaks highly of their commitment to the natural beauty and wildlife of Stone Harbor.
The construction phase of the project will be complete on thursday with the finishing of the resiliency dune.
I wish to congratulate all the members of our team on a job done well.