The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, State Lands Division and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab have partnered to conduct extensive habitat restoration, monitoring and research along the Alabama coast. This historic partnership will provide $1.5 million to the DISL over the next three years for research and conservation activities.
“The Department is truly excited about this partnership,” stated Carl Ferraro, a Natural Resource Planner with the ADCNR, State Lands Division, Coastal Section in Spanish Fort. “By partnering with the DISL, we are tapping into a wealth of expertise and experience to obtain the best science available on shoreline restoration efficacy and cost effectiveness. This knowledge will serve us well as we plan future restoration efforts”.
These funds are provided by a post-Hurricane Katrina fisheries restoration grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Under this partnership, the DISL will construct shoreline restoration projects at two sites: the northeast shoreline of Point aux Pins and the undeveloped shoreline on the southwest side of the Boggy Point boat ramp site in Orange Beach. Both of these projects will utilize oyster shell breakwaters to protect eroding shorelines and promote the re-establishment of marsh plants and seagrasses along the shoreline.
Additionally, a seagrass restoration project in Little Lagoon adjacent to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge will be significantly expanded. This project will compare the feasibility and cost-efficacy of several seagrass planting methods. $400,000 will be utilized to construct these projects.
$1.1 million dollars will be targeted towards an unprecedented three-year intensive monitoring and research effort on the above-mentioned construction sites and two other sites already carried out by the DISL and a large-scale project planned for Little Bay.
The sites already constructed by the DISL include the Mobile County Bay Front Park Oyster Reef Breakwater research project and the Helen Wood Park Living Shorelines Demonstration project, constructed as part of a partnership between the DISL, ADCNR and The Nature Conservancy, and the Mobile County Bay Front Park Oyster Reef Breakwater research project.
All of the sites will be monitored for a wide range of parameters, including oyster abundance, fish and shellfish abundance, benthic macro-invertebrate abundance, water quality and chemistry, shoreline stabilization and other related parameters. This will provide the scientific data needed to determine restoration project efficacy, validate project designs and guide the design and construction of future habitat restoration and shoreline stabilization projects.
Additionally, the results of this monitoring will provide cost efficiency and efficacy data for the promotion and construction of “living shoreline” alternative to bulkheads and seawall.
“This is an unprecedented analysis of the real benefits of coastal restoration that will serve as a template for managers across the world,” said Dr. Just Cebrian, Senior Marine Scientist, DISL and principle investigator of the endeavor. “This project will test in an unprecedented manner whether coastal restoration works and, if so, how we can get the most out of it,” he concluded.
The project will kick off in early Fall 2008 with pre-project monitoring efforts. In early spring 2009, construction projects will commence at Boggy Point and Point aux Pins and seagrass planting will take place in Little Lagoon. Post-project monitoring will commence and continue until late summer 2011. The entire project is scheduled to be complete September 15, 2011.
The partnership was announced November 18, 2010.