SAVANNAH, Ga. — Mary Richards and Robin Armetta, two biologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, survey bird species in the dredged material containment areas along the Savannah River, every two weeks.
The DMCAs are designated placement sites for sediment removed from the Savannah River that provide habitats for several bird species.
During nesting season, April to August, the biologists increase the frequency of their visits to track the population count and monitor the progress of life at every stage.
“It’s fun coming out here and counting birds any time of year,” said Richards. “But nesting season is special. It’s new life.”
The Savannah District uses the process of dredging to maintain a deepened channel in the Savannah River. The beneficial use of dredged material for habitat creation plays a critical role in the population count for several species of birds and demonstrates that the sediments can be used as a resource rather than a waste product.
“We have committed to provide four different types of habitats for birds,” said Richards. “To monitor that commitment, we come out and just see if the birds are using [the dredged material].”
While there is a specific report for bird species, the duo make notes of any other wildlife they see when they survey the area, such as alligators, wild hogs, and coyotes.
“We usually have two people come out here,” said Armetta. “We take our scopes and binoculars and then we count. At the end of the day, we’ll do a summary report to capture what we saw.”
The data is compiled at the end of the fiscal year and sent to USACE Headquarters and other resource agencies to show how they are meeting their commitments.
“The best part about this job is the variety of work it offers,” said Armetta. “I enjoy collaborating with resource agencies to propose solutions that benefit the environment.”