Plans call for restoring and protecting more than 150 acres of tidal wetlands at Shooting Island. (Photo courtesy city of Ocean City) Contractors began work Wednesday on Ocean City’s restoration of Shooting Island, the longest living shoreline project in New Jersey history.This fall, Ocean City received a long-awaited permit for wetlands restoration and enhancement at Shooting Island in Great Egg Harbor Bay. The permit enables the city to move forward with another piece of its long-range plan for dredging, maintenance and restoration of the city’s beautiful back-bay recreational area.The first phase of Shooting Island restoration will help provide coastal resiliency and reduction of storm impacts to Ocean City’s bayfront. Shooting Island has seen significant degradation of its shoreline, receding nearly 60 feet since 1978. More than 150 acres of tidal wetlands will be restored and protected.The project also will restore habitat for marine life, birds and other coastal species. Subsequent phases of the project could use material dredged from the bottom of adjacent shallow waterways to further restore the island. The work will take advantage of a $2.6 million grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to experiment with ways to “create and stabilize wetlands”YouTube video of Shooting Island courtesy of Jonathan MoragliaOcean City Mayor Jay A. Gillian and City Council hope the city’s commitment to the preservation and maintenance of the back bay will help other shore communities in addressing similar issues in their efforts to keep their waterways open.The groundbreaking permit was issued to Ocean City in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Department of Interior, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and National Marine Fisheries Service.City Council in November awarded the construction contract to Charter Contracting of Boston. Contractors began work Wednesday on the northern and western shorelines of Shooting Island.They will be working Mondays through Saturdays to install 2,700 linear feet of rock sill and 1,450 linear feet of oyster habitat.The sill will function as protection for the Shooting Island wetlands and will absorb energy from the waves and currents. The oyster habitat blocks will be spaced to promote the flow of tidal water between the marsh and bay.An image taken from Google Maps shows the location of Shooting Island in the back bay off Ocean City.