Cooperatove Conservation Project

Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Protection Project

Combining public and nonprofit resources to address environmental needs

Location: Southeastern Region: North Carolina

Project Summary: Using effective partnerships, we restored 5-acres of marsh, seagrass, oysters, and maritime forest, opening new doors of cooperation between agencies and non-governmental organizations.
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Corps of Engineers photo of the previous eroding but now restored marsh shoreline at Iceplant Island. This July 2004 photo shows vigorous marsh growth at the end of the second growing season protected by an offshore rock sill.
Resource Challenge

Roanoke Island Festival Park including the Elizabeth II State Historic Site is located on Ice Plant Island adjacent to Manteo, in Dare County, North Carolina.  About 1,500 feet of coastal marsh and maritime forest was eroding along the islands shoreline. This habitat is important for oysters, fish and wildlife and supports commercial fisheries. Public facilities of Festival Park are located just landward of these habitats.  The Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC, Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Protection Project restored 5 acres of maritime forest and shallow estuarine habitat, including marsh, submerged aquatic vegetation and oysters.  It includes a rock sill that increases diversity by providing attachment substrate and protects the habitat and adjacent public facilities from future erosion.

This project, a product of hands-on team synergy, may be relatively small in scope, but the final product supports the foundation of future ecosystem restoration projects in North Carolina.  The team, was a unique alliance of Federal and state government and non-government organizations (NG0’s), who took personal ownership of this project.   Many of it’s members, including the staff at Festival Park, enlisted their families and worked hand in hand with volunteers and practitioners to plant marsh grasses and trees provide by the NC Forest Service, USFWS and NC State University.  Conservation Technical Assistance and experimental estuary marsh grasses were provided by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service through its National Plant Materials Program, Cape May Plant Material Center.  State marine fisheries professionals and NGOs, including the Nature Conservancy, contributed their expertise and equipment to oyster restoration and were willing to test innovative methods to seed cultch, potentially expanding oyster restoration opportunities to include fresher waters less effected by oyster disease.  The NC Coastal Federation provided a traditional role as volunteer organizer, and also provided new services of cost share partner, and environmental facilitator, working with the Corps of Engineers and State of North Carolina to achieve a common restoration goal.


Examples of Key Partners

 US Army Corps of Engineers - Wilmington District, State of North Carolina, NC Coastal Federation, NC State University, Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Concervancy , Carteret Community College, and others.

Results and Accomplishments

 “There now exists a project that all are proud to claim. A state environmental resource has been protected, friendships and relationships have been strengthened and the public will not only enjoy the site, but also become educated about the value of environmental restoration and management.” Roanoke Island Commission, June 10, 2002.

As can be seen by the quote above, this restoration project set a new standard in interagency partnership and customer satisfaction.  It also provided important technical transfer and education/outreach benefits. Festival Park is a high use public education center and this restoration project will include interpretive signs to explain its features and their ecological benefits.  The NRCS responded to a request for help in the development of an adaptive management plan to address low initial plant survival at this site by organizing a “Spartina alterniflora Workshop” hosted at Festival Park.  This workshop gathered technical experts in the field of coastal ecology and restoration to review the status of this important coastal marsh species in windtide driven marshes of Dare and Currituck Counties and make recommendations for it use on this and other restoration projects in Northeastern NC.  The Festival Park Aquatic Habitat Restoration Project has also been the subject of university lectures and presentations at regional and National restoration conferences.  In 2005 the Roanoke Island Festival Park, NC Aquatic Habitat Restoration and Protection Project Team received Nation recognition, receiving a Coastal America Partnership Award.  The project was also awarded a prestigious NC Coastal Federation “Pelican Award” as the best restoration project along the Northern coast in 2005.   



This project set a new standard in partnership and customer satisfaction. By combining funding, expertise, and equipment, an environmental problem was addressed, opening new doors of cooperation.

Project Contact
Chuck Wilson
Ecosystem Restoration Coordinator
US Army Corps of Engineers - Wilmington District
PO Box 1890
Wilmington , NC 28402


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