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Hart-Miller Island:
Maryland's First Dredge Site

Hart-Miller Island, located in the upper Chesapeake Bay, received material dredged from Baltimore Harbor shipping channels between 1984 and 2009. Originally, Hart-Miller Island was a chain of three islands that suffered from severe erosion. In addition to the erosion of the islands, the Port of Baltimore was declining in shipping cargo units due to the depth of the shipping channel. The newer boats coming from the Panama Canal required a 50 ft. channel, and ships were being rerouted to Norfolk and New York. In 1970, port partners suggested using dredged material to restore the remnants to create more than 1,140 acres of new land and replicate the original footprint of the two larger islands, as well as increase the depth of the shipping channel to allow for larger cargo ships. The project was the first of its kind in Maryland. It was especially challenging because the dredged material came from often contaminated sites in the Baltimore Harbor. Citizens, conservationists, and scientists sought assurance that the dike would not leak to harm fish, wildlife, or water quality. They also feared future commercial use of the island and shared concerns about noise, odor, and aesthetics. To address these concerns, the Maryland Port Administration formed the Hart-Miller Island Citizens Oversight Committee in 1983. The committee has provided open dialogue with the communities surrounding the site and now oversees the conversion of the site to wildlife habitat and future public use. Officials continue to monitor conditions on and around the island to protect fish, wildlife, and water quality. To date, no ill effects have been seen. This indicates that the facility has safely sequestered pollutants attached to harbor sediment and has contributed to the gradual cleaning of the harbor. Hart-Miller Island is one of the first examples of the beneficial use of dredged material in the Chesapeake region, and since then other dredge sites have been created using this model. The project has restored and connected two islands to their combined original size, allowing for several acres to be designated as Hart-Miller Island State Park. A wide range of wildlife visits the island, such as songbirds, owls, heron, deer, foxes, and muskrat. The Maryland Ornithological Society has observed 298 species of birds there, including a large number of waterfowl and migratory birds — at times creating the largest single concentration of waterfowl in the mid-Atlantic region.

1984 HMI Dredge
Location of Island
HMI Citizens Oversight Committee
Wildlife species
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