A report released today by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences has identified close to $50 million of projects needed to help bird populations and habitat impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

“Hurricane Sandy did significant damage to some long-term conservation work,” said Stephen Brown, director of Manomet’s Shorebird Science Division. “Important habitats for high priority species have been altered by this storm. Areas that were being managed for conservation took a big hit.”

Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the United States in late October, 2012. Shortly after, NFWF asked Manomet to work with local partners to assess the damage and compile a list of mitigation projects.

As part of the report, researchers identified actions that should be taken immediately to remediate negative impacts from the storm and protocols that can be put into effect to minimize long-term secondary effects of future storms. The report included over 30 projects between Massachusetts and North Carolina, totaling close to $50 million.

“We have an urgent need and obligation to develop standards for how we treat our most sensitive coastal wildlife habitats during beach engineering projects following storms like Sandy,” said Brad Winn, conservation specialist with Manomet’s Shorebird Recovery Project. “This might just be the first of many such storms, and with the right protocols in place, we can ensure long-term wildlife habitat quality while helping to protect coastal human communities as well.”

The short term recommended projects included rebuilding and stabilizing critical waterbird nesting islands, establishing new breeding colonies of imperiled species, repairing access for management of conservation lands and assessing and repairing water control structures and pumps for managed wetlands.

“As we begin the enormous task of restoring the ecosystems damaged by Sandy, the most important need is a clear, comprehensive plan,” said NFWF’s Claude Gascon, Executive Vice President, Science, Evaluation and Programs. “This report recommends actions we can take now to ensure a comeback for mid-Atlantic bird populations.”

The largest project on the list is a $20 million initiative to repair damage to infrastructure and impoundments and stabilize habitats at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware.

– Dave McGlinchey