The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District, urges boaters in the Chesapeake Bay to steer clear of ongoing construction activities around Poplar Island through expected increases in boating activities over the coming weeks and months.

poplar island
Boaters are urged to steer clear of ongoing construction activities around Poplar Island. Courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers

“With increased boat traffic expected during Memorial Day weekend, the Army Corps would like to remind the public to avoid the area marked by cautionary buoys at the north end of Poplar Island,” said Justin Callahan, project manager for the Baltimore District’s Poplar Island project. “We’ve positioned cautionary buoys all around the construction zone to alert boaters to the very real risk they take of hitting submerged rocks if their vessel crosses into this zone.”

Cautionary buoys remain in place around the construction zone, which extends more than one mile north of the existing island. Approximately half of these buoys are lighted with danger and “keep out” signs written on the buoy, while the remainder are orange ball buoys.

While boaters may not be able to see the hazards within the construction area, submerged rock and construction equipment that are part of the ongoing Poplar Island expansion project may be under the surface and could cause damage to vessels. These cautionary buoys outline the construction area to warn boaters to steer clear and not venture any further in order to keep away from these hazards.

Boaters looking for additional information, including examples of the cautionary buoys and maps, should visit the Poplar Island Construction Zone webpage at

This construction is part of Baltimore District’s Poplar Island expansion project, which is a partnership with the Maryland Port Administration, to create an additional 575 acres of remote island habitat using material dredged from the Maryland Chesapeake Bay approach channels to the Port of Baltimore.

Large rocks and sand are first placed to create dikes that outline the expansion cells, allowing dredge material to later be placed within the cell. These large, submerged rocks are currently being placed within the area outlined by the cautionary buoys and will only pose a hazard to vessels that venture inside this zone. The NOAA nautical chart showing the area can be found at

Please note that for the most up-to-date mid-Atlantic navigational information, hazards and construction warnings, boaters should follow the U.S. Coast Guard’s local notices to mariners by visiting