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Holding Back Surging Waters

North Beach is drowning.     
    Each time the sea surges forward, homes, buildings and the infrastructure supporting them are at risk. Floodwaters can rise up to erode Route 261, a main thoroughfare and emergency evacuation route.
    “North Beach really is a microcosm of what’s going on in coastal communities up and down the Eastern seaboard faced with rising sea levels,” says town mayor Mark Frazer.
    Now one hole in the dyke has been plugged.
    At the point Route 261 passes a depressed wetland, 670 feet of shoreline has been restored since 2013 with three acres of salt marsh installed as a buffer against the rising waters. This spring, Huntingtown High School honors biology students made like the little Dutch boy who plugged that dyke, capping the three-year effort by planting 10,000 plugs of stabilizing grass.
    Organizing the restoration is Environmental Concern of St. Michaels, the non-profit that planted Poplar Island, the Chesapeake’s biggest island recovery job.
    The North Beach project also aims to restore the vitality of a marsh on the other side of the state road by relinking it to the Bay.
    The students worked in a living classroom, collecting data along the shoreline as well as studying healthy ecosystems.
    “Getting the word out and doing these projects together, coming together as a community, really helps keep everything healthier and safer,” said ninth grader Sydney Nader.