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More than a year has gone by since Hurricane Sandy’s wrath took aim on our region and put a damper on programing at The Wetlands Institute by destroying our dock. Deprived of much needed access to Scotch Bonnet Creek, we had to cancel some of our summer activities including back-bay boating tours on the Skimmer, hooked on fishing and crabbing at the dock. But with much determination, we managed to revise our programming and have a very successful season.

Our back-bay kayak tours were launched from alternate locations. We even made do with the low tide which left us little access to water during our Crabulous Crab Day. Our visitors enjoyed a full schedule of programs but it wasn’t quite the same. We were missing an integral part of our facility.

Another significant challenge brought on by the loss of our dock was the loss of our salt water pumping system. This system is used to pump water along the quarter-mile long Salt Marsh Trail to maintain our aquarium. Losing this system meant having to haul water by truck in a 500 gallon tank every week.

The new dock was officially opened to the public in September, during our 1st Annual Fall Migration Festival. And it was well worth the wait! The 122 foot long structure is higher and is constructed of all new non-polluting materials. Its railing system has two heights providing safe and great views for kids. We have boat slips for our 2 research boats and an area for the Skimmer to dock. Gates provide access to water monitoring research equipment that will be installed in the spring. A new submerged pump has the pumping facility back on line.

The rebuilding was made possible through your generosity. We couldn’t have done it without all your support and we are thrilled to be back in business and better than before. The McLean Contributionship supported the project with a $15,000 grant and contributions to The Wetlands Institute’s Sandy Rebuilding Fund raised more than $40,000. The remaining funds will come from a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster assistance grant.

Although it made for a challenging year, the setback brought by Sandy has not affected our motivation to keep moving forward. Our rebuilding efforts continue. We are about to begin construction on a new and expanded elevated loop boardwalk to replace teh damaged walkway. We have substantial expenses to complete this construction. A FEMA grant will pay $100,000 of the estimated $250,000 cost of the new boardwalk but we need to finish construction this winter to qualify for the grant. So we still have much to do!

These are exhilarating times at The Wetlands Institute as we build a center of excellence in research, conservation and education.

We are grateful to all of you and hope you will continue to support our rebuilding. Hope to see you soon enjoying our new facilities.