During the past 150 years wind and water have claimed more than 10,000 acres of habitat in the Chesapeake Bay. The soil has been swallowed up by storms and a rising sea level. This erosion has caused huge problems for the Port of Baltimore as it tries to keep its busy shipping channels open. Each year the Maryland Port Administration dredges several million cubic yards of mud from its winding waterways in the Chesapeake Bay. Until recently, there was debate and controversy about what to do with this dredged material. Now the Port believes it has found the answer. It's bringing back to life an island that was once an important fixture in the Chesapeake Bay. The past is literally being dug up from the Bay's clogged waterways to restore an island that shrank from 1200 acres in 1847 to five scattered tiny islands in the early 90's.
It's called Poplar Island. Erosion has taken its toll there. By the mid 1990's the island had all but disappeared. Gone were any remnants of early colonial history. Gone were the hunters, the politicians and the bootleggers that used this island as a haven. Houses, trees and finally the land dissolved into the bay.
But what nature took away, man is now rebuilding in an effort to help protect the environment. "Island Reborn" will look at and document the rebuilding of Poplar Island. It tells the history of the old island from the colonial settlers to the days when Roosevelt and Truman went hunting there with political colleagues. The program explores the engineering, science and technology being used to build the new island into a wildlife sanctuary, and it answers the question of why this unique project is a good development for the environment.
The reclamation of Poplar Island is one of the largest projects of its kind. It's an ambitious undertaking as the Maryland Port Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers attempt to reverse and reshape nature's course. "Island Reborn" shows how the island is already becoming a wildlife oasis, and it looks at the larger lessons to be learned in how the busy ports around the world can clear their channels for shipping as well as help the environment by creating new habitat.