This year many shore communities were rebounding from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. Our beaches and wetland ecosystems were no different. And The Wetlands Institute rebuilt and rebounded as well – and we continue to rebuild to be better than before. There is so much more to do.
At this defining moment, as The Wetlands Institute continues to transform into a center of excellence, we turn to our members and friends – to you – to provide a measure of support that will solidify our foundation and propel us forward to the next levels of our development.
2013 was a transformational year at The Wetlands Institute. We undertook a major staff restructuring effort and added several very talented people to our ranks. We renovated the dormitories to better accommodate new staffing needs and better serve our summer research and education interns.
In mid-September, after Herculean efforts to expedite permitting and construction, we opened a brand new dock that replaces the dock that Hurricane Sandy completely destroyed, and it truly is built better than before. Gifts from you – our supporters made this possible! We have a new dock work station that allows us to expand our research efforts. We are planning a water quality monitoring station that will help us build baseline data sets to better understand the bays and estuary. Our research boats are in the water again. A new Disney Conservation grant will allow us to buy sonar equipment to significantly upgrade our capabilities in terrapin and fisheries conservation. Our education team now has the ability to significantly enhance program offerings to the public and to school groups.
Along with our project partners, we beat the clock and successfully restored Sandy decimated beaches ahead of the horseshoe crab spawning and shorebird migratory stopover. Dedicated philanthropic gifts are fueling the beginnings of our avian conservation work and our research team has been out working with the Delaware Bay Shorebird team to trap and band juvenile shorebirds on their way south for the first time. These birds were given a chance because of the remarkable beach restoration project that we were thrilled to help spearhead and that we continue to work on.
We launched a Return the Favor horseshoe crab rescue program and our staff and volunteers rescued nearly 2,000 crabs. Our Marine Debris program has installed 15 monofilament recycling stations around Cape May County to help reduce wildlife impacts from lost fishing line.
We continue work to reduce terrapin mortality on our roadways and in our waterways. Along with a record number of volunteers, we were able to replace nearly 3 miles of terrapin barrier fencing displaced by Sandy. Our summer interns, staff and volunteers saved 142 terrapins crossing busy roadways and recovered 760 eggs from roadkilled terrapins. Three hundred and seventeen orphaned eggs hatched and are being raised for Adopt-A-Terrapin and other releases next year! This summer, we held 18 public education and school programs to release more than 200 of the babies we reared over the winter.
Our next big efforts are underway. The newly designed elevated boardwalk, in a much better location, with new research and education stations, is in final design stages and work is set to begin. It is imperative that we finish the rebuilding effort before the Osprey return in March – or we forfeit our FEMA grant that will cover a portion of the rebuilding costs. This is a remarkable opportunity to enhance our public education programs, while expanding our wetland research capabilities.
I wish you could be here to see the excitement of our staff as they come up with new ideas to educate and inspire all who visit, and to see the faces of teachers and students as they experience the joys of learning first-hand about the salt marsh and beaches. I am proud of all we have accomplished and look forward to continuing on our amazing journey. At The Wetlands Institute, we are only as strong as our members and supporters. That’s why I’m asking you to support our 2013 Annual Fund Drive to help us to continue the transformation of our programs and facilities. 100% of your gift will fund program enhancements and facilities upgrades and will be put to work immediately.
When you are part of the annual fund donor community, The Wetlands Institute’s many accomplishments and contributions are your accomplishments and contributions. Please give this year. It really does matter.
Thanks for helping us to continue our critical conservation work.
Lenore P. Tedesco, PhD
P.S. Please visit our donation page to to help with a secure online gift.