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Staff Spotlight: Isaac Wilding

Photo of: Isaac steering a boat

Isaac Wilding is the dredging grant coordinator for the Center for Waterway Improvement and Infrastructure within the department’s Chesapeake and Coastal Service. 

Before joining us at the Department of Natural Resources in 2016, Isaac was an environmental scientist with BayLand Consultants and Designers. There, he performed topographic, bathymetric and submerged aquatic vegetation surveys. It’s also where he gained experience designing dredging projects and inspecting dredging work.

Isaac earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Sciences from the University of Maryland. He is married with identical 3-year-old twin girls. He lived with his wife in Chile for a year from 2012-2013 where they both worked and enjoyed the beautiful country.

The Center for Waterway Improvement and Infrastructure manages the Waterway Improvement Fund, which provides grants to counties and municipalities for boating access and safety projects. These projects include anything that benefits the boating public of Maryland such as boat ramps, piers, firefighting boats, jetties, shoreline stabilization and dredging. As dredging coordinator, I assist our grantees with their dredging projects and other related navigation works. The center provides reconnaissance bathymetric surveys to our customers for planning purposes. Advising on estimated dredge quantities and efficient channel locations, the center provides accurate cost estimates for these projects so that our grant funds are handled effectively.

The center also coordinates with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard regarding various navigational concerns throughout the Chesapeake Bay. We provide them with surveys, advise them on navigational hazards, and provide locations for navigational aids before dredging is used as a last resort. The Army Corps performs navigational dredging on a larger scale, and the center coordinates efforts with theirs to ensure effective use of our funds.

Dredge material disposal is a rising issue in our state. The Maryland Department of the Environment has written new policies regarding the beneficial use of dredge material for shoreline and marsh placement—a valuable tool for coastal resiliency in the face of rising seas. This will allow easier approval for these beneficial use projects with material that would otherwise go to waste in impoundment sites, where it is allowed to sit and dry out over time.

I work to help prioritize the beneficial use of dredge material and coordinate with other groups within Chesapeake and Coastal Service to locate effective projects.

Dredging performs a vital function in our waterways by maintaining safe depths for our vessels, and will always be needed throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Hopefully with continued efforts to battle stormwater pollution and runoff, we can see reduced sediments entering our waterways and thereby reduce our dredging needs. This is another example of trickle-down benefits that can be gained by minimizing pollution into our waterways.