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Deal Island Marsh & Community Project   June 2014, Volume 4


Third Community Workshop

Our February 2014 stakeholder workshop was held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Deal Island. We packed in a lot into our day-long meeting! This included some information and follow up on socio-economic valuation of marsh and community by Dr. Lisa Wainger, discussion of ditch plugging activities by Mr. Don Webster, and time to work on our Collaborative Research Projects related to flooding, heritage, and marsh restoration. After lunch, Dr. Needelman discussed our proposal for Hurricane Sandy funding and presentations were given by Ms. Sasha Land and Mr. Bhaskar Subramanian on potential activities to develop a coastal resiliency assessment and living shoreline project. Finally, Ms. Diane Leason highlighted some information related to our website and flicker pictures. Dr. Michael Paolisso provided some information on plans to develop youth involvement in the project as well as a wrap up for the day. The Collaborative Research Project groups will continue to develop their activities over the next few months.

Restoration Underway!

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources plugged ditches at our study sites in April.  In an effort to restore wetland hydrology, the ditches were plugged to prevent the marshes from draining.  The plugs are constructed of plastic sheating and earth and each ditch required approximately 12 feet of sheeting to seal each opening.  An oversized excavator was used to pound the sheeting into the marsh substrate and then soil was excavated from within the marsh to reinforce the plug.   We will continue to  monitor the health of the marshes this summer and next.

Installation of sheeting

Earthen mound covering sheeting effectively plugging a ditch

Community Research Projects


Tour group at the proposed living shoreline site at Twiggs Point off Marina Road.

On a very wet April day, the group took a tour of the Deal Island impoundment area and the proposed living shoreline site. Community members had an opportunity to explore the impoundment.  Managers from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources were available to respond to questions about historical and current management of the impoundment.  Community members contributed valuable information about historical and current uses of the area.  Thanks Eileen for getting lunch together and to Michael for providing us a warm space to dry off!


The group is currently mapping the historical marsh landscape using areial photos and information gathered from interviews conducted during the tour.   More interviews are planned to gather additional information from community members about historical landscape changes and historical use of the marsh.  Please contact Paul Leisnham at if you'd like to participate.



A Public Open House is being held in June about the new coastal flood maps.  You will be able to learn about flood risk and ask questions specific to your property.  The event is being held at the Somerset County Office Complex, 11916 Somerset Avenue, Princess Anne Maryland.  Contact Somerset County Department of Technical and Community Services at 410-651-1424 for more information.

Skipjack Heritage, Inc. Providing Crucial Support

Members of Skipjack Heritage, Inc. are very active in the Deal Island Marsh and Community project as well as our Heritage Collaborative Research Project group. The Heritage CRP group has been meeting regularly to develop plans for collecting heritage related information. Skipjack Heritage, Inc. is an invaluable partner for the Deal Island Marsh and Community project and we have developed an agreement between the two groups for all heritage related information to be given to SHI for use and storage into the future. In support of heritage data collection, the Deal Island Marsh and Community Project has provided equipment to Skipjack Heritage, Inc. for these purposes including: laptop, digital recorders, camera, projector and screen, digital scanner, and printer.


Mike Paolisso, Jo Johnson, and Lauren Amrhien have been working with youth from the Deal Island Peninsula communities through a local church youth group that meets at Rock Creek Church. The youth, ranging from 7 to 18 years old, are going to assist as interviewers for the Deal Island Marsh and Community Project. We’re going to arrange for youth to interview family members and other community members. Interviews will focus on the unique qualities and characteristics of Deal Island and its marshes that play a role in making the communities and ecosystem resilience in the face of social and environmental change. Interviews will be conducted over the next two months. The youth group leaders: Grant, Roxanne, and Debbie, will help to facilitate the interviews between community members and youth. For more information contact Mike Paolisso at

Deal Island Marsh and Community Project Youth Involvement

SESYNC Intern joins the project

Lauren Amrhein is a Junior Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering major at the University of Maryland, College Park. She is originally from Bel Air, MD. When Lauren graduates she plans on attending graduate school, in either Chemical Engineering or Environmental Engineering. In her free time, Lauren enjoys dancing, specifically ballet. Lauren has a huge passion for ballet and has been dancing since she was two and half years old.

SESYNC is a national research center funded through a grant to the University of Maryland; a resource for the scholarly community, facilitating innovative, cross-discipline research by providing a unique array of support and activities, as well as a physical collaborative space, to accelerate socio-environmental research and synthesis.  Visit SESYNC to learn more.

Team Updates

Collaborative Learning Science Team

Our next workshop will take place early this fall and we'll 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 summer field season is about to begin.  We will be collecting water, soil, and vegetation data.  Feel free to contact Diane Leason if you'd like to lend a hand at


Economic Research

The economics team has completed its analysis of the Q sort activities conducted in the community workshops in July 2013 and February 2014.  The goal of these activities was to gain a better understanding of how stakeholders value the benefits they receive from the local marsh ecosystem.  The team is currently interpreting the results, with the help of the insights provided by the stakeholders during group discussions held in February.  The team will be presenting results from the Q sort activity at the Restore America's Estuaries National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration in November.



The Collaborative Research Project (CRP) teams are continuing to work on their projects (see updates above).  Remember to get involved with the project that most interests you!  

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