Berlin Provides Conservancy Access To Restore Wetlands

BERLIN – Town officials agreed to again partner with The Nature Conservancy to restore wetlands near the Pocomoke River.

On July 25, the Berlin Town Council approved an agreement with The Nature Conservancy that will allow the organization access to land at the town’s spray irrigation facility on Purnell Crossing Road. The Nature Conservancy will be installing breaches to restore wetlands.

“We’re in the permitting process right now,” said Mike Dryden, restoration specialist for The Nature Conservancy.

Dryden told the council The Nature Conservancy had been working for more than a decade to rebuild area wetlands. Regionally, the organization is close to restoring and protecting 4,000 acres in the Pocomoke River Watershed, mostly on the Pocomoke River. About 100 years ago, levees or berms were created near the river. When a storm occurs, water sits in the pockets created by them. What The Nature Conservancy wants to do is break up those levees so that water can bypass them and settle in the surrounding areas during a storm event.

“What we’re doing is taking these spoil piles out, bringing the floodplain elevation straight across,” Dryden said.

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The town initially approved an agreement with The Nature Conservancy in 2016 and the organization sought permission this week to continue its efforts along the Pocomoke. Jamey Latchum, the town’s director of water resources, said The Nature Conservancy wanted permission to go on the town’s spray site property to build three more of the breaches it’s been installing throughout the watershed.

“We’re going to do two miles from Purnell Crossing south, not quite to Whiton,” Dryden said, adding that three of the planned 12 breaches would be on town property.

The council voted unanimously to approve the cooperative agreement with The Nature Conservancy. Dryden said permitting was underway and that he hoped construction could start in August or September.

According to its website, The Nature Conservancy’s mission “is to conserve the lands on which all life depends. To achieve this, we must boldly address the biodiversity and climate crises over the next decade. By maximizing our ability to effect change between now and 2030, we can shape a brighter future for people and our planet.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.