BISHOPVILLE — The State Highway Administration (SHA) last week started a long-awaited major wetland restoration project on the site of a former sand mine in Bishopville.
SHA officials announced this week the state agency has started restoring a threatened wetland at Lizard Hill in Bishopville. The $1.5 million project, which will restore a seepage wetland and habitat for Atlantic white cedar wetland, is located on the existing Bishopville Surface Mine.
Lizard Hill was originally used as sand mine. Due to years of mining and loss of vegetation, agricultural runoff went directly into waterways that make up part of Worcester County’s coastal bay watershed. The restored wetland and the reestablishment of the Atlantic white cedar trees will act as a buffer to agricultural runoff. In addition to filtering waterways, the trees will slow water velocity that not only erodes vital stream and waterway banks, but also carries suspended sediment to Buntings Branch, which feeds the Bishopville Prong and the St. Martin River.
“It is imperative that SHA protect and enhance waterways that lead to the state’s fragile watersheds,” said SHA Administrator Neil J. Pedersen. “The projects that we begin today will have a positive and lasting impact for tomorrow and help protect the 3,100 miles of Maryland’s coastline.”
SHA will plant approximately 6,500 Atlantic white cedar trees, native to Maryland due to freshwater wetlands near the coast.
The coastal freshwater marshes of the Mid-Atlantic were typically composed of Atlantic white cedar, which historically grew in very dense stands with thousands of trees per acre, nearly all of the same age.
“We are very excited to see the Lizard Hill restoration project finally come to fruition,” said MCBP Chief Scientist Dr. Roman Jesien. “The restoration of the Atlantic white cedar plant community in the Bishopville area is a tremendous start to restoring this fragile ecosystem that was once a common part of our coastal area, but now exists as only a few trees in a few isolated locations.”