Deal Island Marsh & Community Project   February 2014, Volume 3


Second Community Workshop a Success!

Our second community workshop, held on October 19 at the Rock Creek Church Hall in Chance, served as another great opportunity for our project stakeholders to interact and learn from each other.  The workshop provided stakeholders with general project updates as well as a time for the collaborative research project groups (“CRPs”:  heritage, flooding, and marsh restoration) to meet and plan. A few key presentations outlined work-to-date that we’ve accomplished on the project.


Brian Needelman discussed several features of scientific work related to ditch-drained marsh restoration, geospatial data, marsh accretion (marsh peat growing upwards), and land subsidence (land sinking down). Brian also stressed that sea-level rise is not a new phenomenon in our region--he played a great video clip showing 15,000 years of change for the Delmarva peninsula, and how the land mass has been getting smaller and smaller.


Other presentations included one by economist Lisa Wainger, who outlined some preliminary findings drawn from the group activity at our previous workshop.  She was able to give us some initial ideas about what socio-ecological services are prioritized by the stakeholder community. Jo Johnson presented on plans to begin conducting interviews related to socio-ecological resilience of the Deal Island Peninsula area. Sasha Land and Natasha Leuchanka discussed using our website and other web-based interfaces as potential resources for the conduct and promotion of our work on the Deal Island Marsh and Community Project. If you have any ideas about how we should better communicate the work we’re doing- let us know!


The CRPs met twice during our day-long workshop, first to prioritize intersets and then to begin developing implementation plans. With everyone’s busy schedule it’s difficult to get going on projects that have a shared workload. The CRPs are now in the process of finalizing some work plans that identify their group priorities, create timelines, and identify resources needed in order for the groups to move forward. The workshop concluded with the CRPs presenting their ideas.


The workshop was a big success because everyone gained a better idea of the scientific work that the project has undertaken and how that science is linked to the collaborative work that the CRPs intend to do. While the CRP groups are small, each has within it a diversity of people from different backgrounds. Conversation was lively and everyone seemed pleased by the discovery of common ground. The delicious fried chicken and mac and cheese for lunch probably helped too!



The Heritage team is identifying the characteristics and customs that define our 

community and what can be done to preserve those characteristics and customs.   

Our focus is on gathering information from the community through interviews and

surveys.  Currently, we are in the process of preserving community photos digitally.  

Additonally, we have identified the necessary equipment needed to accomplish 

our goals (a laptop computer, scanner, camera, tape recorders, and a projector)

and are making purchases.  These items will enable the Heritage team to digitize 

historic photos of the area, record the oral histories of community members as they relate to local heritage, capture images of community members displaying the characteristics and participating in customs identified as important, educate local youth about their heritage through their participation in the project, store information centrally to ease data entry and retrieval, and to develop community outreach programs that provide heritage education to the broader community.  The Heritage CRP is very engaged and is making progress towards the goals of community resiliency in the shadow of sea level rise.    


Flooding & Shoreline Erosion


Historical and current patterns of flooding on the Deal Island Peninsula are being analyzed by this CRP.  Aerial photos and maps as well as community surveys and interviews will provide information to help us understand how flooding has shaped our community historically.  We intend to gain an understanding of the risks and economic costs we face, to communicate those risks, and to develop response options on an individual and community basis.



Marsh Restoration


In an effort to understand marsh services and marsh loss, the group is planning to explore the marsh by boat.  The tour will provide community members an opportunity to explore our marshes with a focus on understanding the historical and current uses of marshes and how the marshes have changed over time. We are also planning to do interviews to obtain more information about this subject. The group also hopes to explore the possibility of opening the impoundment in effort to "let nature go free".  We are also examining ways to involve our youth in the restoration process. We are going to contact local youth leaders to request their input and participation in upcoming activities.

Community Research Projects Underway

Hurricane Sandy Grant Submitted

We submitted a proposal on January 31st to the 2013 Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program ( We will hear back in May about whether we are funded. The proposal was a team effort, including highly valuable input from many stakeholders. We also received a remarkable number of letters of support—thank you to all for contributing! We developed quite a few good ideas about how to move our project forward through the process of writing the proposal. We will discuss some of them at our February workshop. Please contact Brian Needelman if you’d like more details.

Upcoming Events



  • 3rd Community Workshop, 2/24/2014, at St Paul's United Methodist Church, Deal, MD.  Please email Jo Johnson at for information.

  • The restoration of the ditch-drained marshes is scheduled for February or March.

  • Marsh Restoration group to host marsh tour by boat   (stay tuned for date announcement!)

Chuck Collier snapped these photos of ice build up on the bay.  So much ice has built up this year that icebreakers have been deployed throughout the Bay!  Check out this story by WTOP news:

Team Updates

Collaborative Learning Science Team

Our next workshop is scheduled for February 24th at St Paul's United Methodist Church in Deal, MD. At this workshop we'll be continue with science presentations, look further into socio-ecological services, and spend some time working within our CRP groups.   This is another opportunity to interact and learn from one another. Sharing our stories and experiences provides a better understanding of the needs for the Deal Island Peninsula.  Collaborative Learning is a key component of our activities and we hope that you'll be able to participate in our workshop and the CRP projects to help in this sharing process.  If you would like more information please email Jo Johnson at


Ecological Team​

The last of the 2013 field work was completed in January and the ecological research team has moved indoors.  We are busy processing field samples and analyzing our data. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is scheduled to install the ditch plugs at our three marsh restoration sites in February or March--we will let people know when this is happening.


Economic Research

The economics team is planning to ask stakeholders for further input about how they made choices when asked to prioritize ecosystem services. Information will be used in analyzing and understanding results of the Q-sort exercise. In addition, the team continues to work on methods for linking ecological changes to economic benefits and losses.



The Collaborative Research Project (CRP) team met during the October workshop. The Heritage, Flooding & Shoreline Erosion, and Marsh Restoration research groups identified priorities, resources needed, and potential public outreach products (see update above). Remember to get involved with the project that most interests you!  

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