Between 1996-2010, tidal wetlands have declined in acreage across the delaware Estuary, including both
palustrine (-1.02%; -293 acres or -119 hectares per year) and estuarine (-1.77%; -194 acres or -79 hectares
per year) wetlands (Table 5.2.2). The largest estuarine wetland losses were in the lower New Jersey
Bayshore (denoted Delaware Basin 2, or DB2), which saw a decrease of 1,915 acres (3.08%; 775 hectares)
and along the Upper Estuary (UE2, New Jersey) which saw a decrease of 414 acres (10.95%; 168 hectares).
Estuarine wetlands in Delaware also experienced a large decline in downstream watersheds (LE2 and DB1;
corroboration of findings in Tiner et al., 2011). Palustrine wetlands (tidal and nontidal) also saw a decline
across the Estuary. Interestingly, there was one watershed area that experienced a net increase in tidal
wetland extent between 1996 and 2010, which was the Lower Estuary watershed region in New Jersey (Table
5.2.2), which is discussed in Callout Box – 5.2.9.
Another area of note is the PSEG restoration site on the west
bank of the mouth of the Maurice River (Weishar, et al. 1998; Philipp, 2005), which may also be experiencing
small increases in vegetated area. Although these small gains are good news and may reflect progress
on restoring tidal wetlands, they are overshadowed by the ongoing cumulative losses of tidal wetlands
throughout other areas of the Delaware Estuary. Figures 5.2.6 and 5.2.7 illustrate the trends for salt marsh
(estuarine emergent) and palustrine (vegetated freshwater) wetlands from 1996 to 2010.