US Army Corps of Engineers
Philadelphia District & Marine Design Center

Mordecai Island Coastal Wetlands Restoration

Ocean County, NJ

Published Dec. 10, 2012
Valuable habitats on Mordecai Island provide breeding, foraging, nesting and resting areas for many species of migratory birds, including shorebirds, wading birds, raptors and waterfowl. Mordecai Island is home to the largest nesting colony of black skimmers in Barnegat Bay (shown in photo).

Valuable habitats on Mordecai Island provide breeding, foraging, nesting and resting areas for many species of migratory birds, including shorebirds, wading birds, raptors and waterfowl. Mordecai Island is home to the largest nesting colony of black skimmers in Barnegat Bay (shown in photo).

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS - NJ-2,3

AUTHORITY: The Mordecai Island Coastal Wetlands Restoration Project, Beach Haven, NJ is authorized under Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, Public Law 99-662, as amended, Project Modifications for Improvement of the Environment.  

LOCATION: Mordecai Island is located west of Long Beach Island near Beach Haven Borough, New Jersey and is adjacent to the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway (NJIWW), the main navigation channel of Barnegat Bay.

DESCRIPTION: The entire coastline of Mordecai Island has suffered from erosion; however, the western edge, adjacent to the Federal New Jersey Intracoastal Waterways navigation channel, has receded at a more substantial rate on the order of 3 - 6 ft. per year. Over the past 100 years, half the island has been lost through erosion.  If nothing is done to protect the island, the erosion will continue and a highly valuable habitat, including a nesting colony of state-threatened black skimmers, will be at risk.  The goal of the project is to preserve and protect Mordecai Island's diverse natural bird and marine habitats by stabilizing the shoreline and reducing future erosion and limit impacts to habitat.

Several erosion protection measures were evaluated and a 90% level design for an offshore wave barrier was completed in 2009; however, the expected wave reducing efficiency (40%) of the structure and new living shorelines rules in New Jersey prompted the sponsor to request another alternative incorporating living shorelines into the solution.  Various types of hybrid living shorelines solutions (rock and vegetation) to the erosion were evaluated by USACE’s Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC).  

PROJECT GOALS: The goal of the project is to preserve and protect Mordecai Island's diverse natural bird and marine habitats by stabilizing the shoreline and reducing future erosion and limit impacts to habitat.

Continued erosion of Mordecai Island threatens an abundant diversity of natural wildlife habitats including open marsh, salt ponds, exposed mud flats, shrub-dominated areas and shallow water eelgrass beds. These habitats provide breeding, foraging, nesting and resting areas for many species of migratory birds, including shorebirds, wading birds, raptors and waterfowl. The continual erosion along the western edge of Mordecai Island threatens this rich diversity of natural habitats. USACE’s Operations Division beneficially placing dredged material from a shoal in the NJIWW on the island. The larger ecosystem restoration project (led by Planning) will build on this shorter timeframe effort and Planning and Operations will continue to coordinate as design progresses.

SPONSOR: The Mordecai Land Trust and the NJDEP Bureau of Coastal Engineering are co-sponsoring the project.  Mordecai Land Trust, Inc., a New Jersey non-profit organization formed in 2001, was formed solely to preserve and protect Mordecai Island. 

TARGET FEASIBILITY STUDY COMPLETION: June 2020

PROJECT MANAGER: Terry Fowler