Barren Island

Conservation Initiatives

Restoring Chesapeake
Bay Islands

Barren Island, which is part of the Chesapeake Marshlands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, is located 12 miles south of the Choptank River in the Chesapeake Bay. Barren Island is one of the few remaining islands in the Bay, and it is eroding at a rapid rate.

Offshore islands are a unique ecosystem in the Bay. They typically have a relative lack of human disturbance and fewer predators compared with mainland habitats; therefore, they are more desirable as nesting sites for colonial water birds and some endangered species. In addition, islands provide offshore protection for mainland habitats by reducing wave action and erosion rates.

The Aquarium is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Maryland Conservation Corps, Friends of Blackwater, and community volunteers to restore wetland habitat by planting native salt marsh grass.

In the spring of 2001, the National Aquarium’s Conservation Team (ACT!) set foot on Barren Island for the first time, with the goal of restoring 7 acres of wetland habitat with the help of 350 volunteers. Since then, ACT! and our project partners have restored a total of 26 acres of wetland habitat on Barren Island.

An island once “barren” by erosion now thrives with wildlife and vegetation. Project partners are pleased with the results of the last 10 years. As funds become available, additional areas of the island will be restored.

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Annually, the National Aquarium mobilizes thousands of volunteers to restore coastal ecosystems in the Chesapeake Bay and worldwide. Help us keep our conservation program strong.

Laura Bankey
Director of Conservation

National Aquarium - Laura Bankey

As the Director of Conservation, Laura works with our conservation staff to prepare for field events like tree plantings, coastline cleanups and more to restore vital wildlife habitats. Learn More