Pea Patch Island Phragmites Removal and Shoreline Stabilization

State TrusteeDelaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Case Name:


United States of America

Restoration Types:

Habitat Enhancement


Affected DOI Resources:

Migratory Birds


Delaware City



Project Description

Pea Patch Island is a small, low-lying island located near the entrance of the Delaware River. It emerged as a sandbar in the mid 1700s and had been developed as a coastal defense fortification by the early 1800s. A seawall and dikes were built on the island and the current Fort Delaware was constructed between 1848 and 1860. Ownership of the island was transferred to the State of Delaware when the fort was decommissioned in 1944 and Fort Delaware State Park opened to the public in 1951. A portion of the island was also used as a dredge disposal site, creating high areas that became vegetated with shrubs and trees. Since the early 1970s, Pea Patch Island has supported the largest heron rookery along the East Coast of the United States north of Florida. Ten species of colonial-nesting herons, egrets, and ibises rear their young on the island each year. This restoration project included the herbicide treatment of approximately 57-acres of wetlands dominated by common reed (Phragmites) along the southeastern portion of the island. Over 95% of the Phragmites in the treated area were eliminated with no evidence of recurring invasions. The shoreline was also stabilized around the rookery to reduce erosion.

Restoration Land Ownership


Parties Implementing Restoration

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

DOI Project Representatives

Fish and Wildlife Service

The common reed (Phragmites) is a perennial grass that outcompetes native wetland plants by forming dense colonies., Credit: Steve Luell, USFWS

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Restoration Documents

Document NameDocument Date
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