The Marshes Are Moving! Conservation Strategies for Adaptation to Coastal Inundation in the Chesapeake Bay

Thumbnail Image




Hench, James
Halpin, Patrick N.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



Many coastal areas in the Chesapeake Bay are threatened by accelerated sea level rise, which poses a policy problem for coastal landowners and wetland habitats. A region of the Chesapeake that is predicted to be especially vulnerable to inundation is Dorchester County, Maryland; a low-lying marsh landscape home to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. In spite of these threats, steps can be taken towards active management to mitigate the effects of sea level rise. One strategy exists in conservation of coastal areas via acquisition or easement. By protecting lands behind coastal areas, natural marsh migration can occur to allow coastal integrity to persist. The purpose of this project is to create a database tool that optimizes conservation techniques in the Chesapeake Bay to permit marsh retreat. Using ArcGIS data, Sea Level Rise Affecting Marshes Modeling (SLAMM) data were processed to show predicted marsh migration in 25-year increments. These data, along with data on properties in Dorchester County and a principle component analysis of inundation risk, were inserted into a Microsoft Access database. This database can be utilized by conservation organizations, such as the Conservation Fund, Chesapeake Conservancy and Audubon Society, to optimize easement and acquisition deals to allow natural shoreline retreat to occur. This report provides a description of the tool, and recommends how it should be utilized to efficiently allow for persistence of the Blackwater Refuge and its marshes.





Baron, Gregory J. (2012). The Marshes Are Moving! Conservation Strategies for Adaptation to Coastal Inundation in the Chesapeake Bay. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.