Hurricane Sandy hit the Atlantic shoreline of New Jersey during several astronomical high tide cycles in late October 2012. The eastern seaboard is subject to sea-level rise and increased severity and frequency of storm events, prompting habitat and land use planning changes. The NWRC is conducting detailed mapping of marine and estuarine wetlands and deepwater habitats, including beaches and tidal flats, and upland land use and land cover, using specially acquired NOAA aerial imagery flown at 1-foot resolution. These efforts will assist the USFWS in mapping the barrier islands in adherence to the Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CBRA) guidelines. Land use and land cover classification will be based on the USFWS National Wetlands Inventory (NWI) and the USGS Anderson Land Use and Land Cover Classification System.
Mapping characterization is occurring with respect to potential storm surge and flooding impacts, which are anticipated to reshape rebuilding efforts. Mapping includes selected barrier islands and marshes from North Carolina to New York. These vital wetland areas are important for migratory waterfowl and neotropical bird habitats, wildlife food chain support, and nurseries for shellfish and finfish populations. Coastal wetlands also play an important function as storm surge buffers. Activities include mapping of dominant estuarine wetland plant species that are useful for wetland functional analysis and wildlife evaluation and management concerns. This project is intended to integrate with and offer updated databases pertinent to USFWS, USGS, and NWI programs, NOAA tidal flats and beaches data, FEMA flood zone data, natural heritage endangered and threatened species, watershed management, and state and local land use planning.