Back Bay Marsh Terraces

By MAP Environmental Inc. | April 1, 2021

In September 2020, the City of Virginia Beach (City) and Dewberry Engineers Inc. (Dewberry) engaged MAP Environmental Inc. on a site characterization and vegetation survey of a 560-acre project area in Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge – Bonney Cove – in support of the Back Bay Marsh Terrace Design project.  This project, which uses a nature-based strategy (i.e. marsh terracing) to reduce flood risk and restore wetland habitat, proposes to convert subaqueous bottom to narrow ridges of marsh habitat (i.e., marsh terraces).   In late 2020 and early 2021, MAP surveyed and characterized the project area, which included recommended plant quantities, species, landscaping techniques, and monitoring schedule for the proposed marsh terrace concept.

In late Winter, MAP delivered its survey and report to the City and Dewberry for their review, comment and discussion.  The report, which contained our survey and site characterization findings, focused on the proposed marsh terrace planting plan and its related environmental benefits – erosion and sediment control, wildlife habitat creation, and fetch reduction.  Additionally, the report offered recommendations for inhibiting the spread of Common Reed into the proposed marsh terraces.  The report is part of an on-going effort between Dewberry, City and MAP Environmental Inc. which now proceeds to the design of the marsh terraces including the wetlands vegetation planting plan, intended to be completed this Spring. 

The MAP Environmental Inc team greatly appreciates the opportunity to assist Dewberry and the City on this unique endeavor.  We look forward to advancing this concept so that, when implemented, the constructed marsh terraces provide an effective, resilient, and successful solution and, thus, help restore and improve the ecology of Back Bay for generations to come.