Your Say: Sept. 19-25, 2019

Just What Goes into James and Poplar Islands

Re: Way Downstream … Vanishing islands to be restored from Baltimore Harbor dredging; Aug. 29-Sept. 5, 2019:


     In reading the August 29 article about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mid-Bay Island Ecosystem Restoration Project, I think there may have been a misunderstanding regarding the source of the dredged material that will be used to restore and grow the eroded James and Barren islands. 

     James Island, like Poplar Island, has been for the past several years, will accept material dredged from what we would refer to as Bay channels in Maryland waters associated with the Port of Baltimore. What this means is material dredged from channels outside of what we consider the Inner Harbor. So essentially material for Poplar Island and eventually James Island is from the miles and miles of approach channels outside of the Key Bridge in the Maryland waters of the Chesapeake Bay. This precludes the material dredged from the historically industrial areas near the historic and present day port facilities.

      Materials dredged from those Inner Harbor areas is not suitable for use in Poplar Island or James Island ecosystem restoration work and instead must be placed into dedicated Dredged Material Containment Facilities like Cox Creek or Masonville nearer to port facilities.

     For additional clarification, Barren Island’s smaller restoration effort (comparatively) will not use material from channels associated with the Port of Baltimore. Instead, it will involve nearby material, including from nearby shallow-draft channels like Honga River, etc.

–Chris Gardner: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

Editor’s note: The article by Bay Weekly co-founder Bill Lambrecht refers not to the Inner Harbor as the letter writer suggests but to a wider expanse referred to as Baltimore Harbor, formed by the Patapsco River. We appreciate the new information on Barren Island, less than 1⁄25 the size of James Island, and we are heartened by your stated desire to prevent hauling contaminants from moving down Chesapeake Bay.

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      Can you please fact check this article. There are so many things wrong. First of all the project at Poplar Island is a long way from done. Secondly, none of the material deposited at Poplar Island is coming from the Baltimore Harbor nor will the material for James Island. Thirdly, the material is not old material from the channel. It’s all new sediment to keep the channel clear. The initial dredging was done many years ago. 

     Can you please post the author of this article. I have shared with the Port Administration and hopefully they too will also comment to correct this article. There are lots of fantastic things in the works at Poplar Island. Do your research. 

      Your magazine has lost all credibility with me and others I have shared this article with. How can we believe any of the other articles you publish when you have posted completely incorrect information regarding this story? Does no one fact check these stories before they are published? I will also be reaching out to my local library about removing your magazine from their shelves.

–Kelly Kelly by Facebook 

Editor’s note: Thanks for your note. Regarding the status of the Poplar Island project, we noted that the engineering firm that released photos of the project in July called it “almost complete.” We look forward to its completion given the promise of the project and the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars spent already on the project. As you’ll see above, we don’t say “Inner Harbor.” We are pleased that the Corps has taken precautions over the years to prevent the movement of old industrial contaminants.