Restoring the Heart of Coastal Alabama
See how oyster restoration projects protected Alabama's shorelines and created jobs.
In July 2009, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded the Conservancy’s Mobile Bay Coastal Restoration project a 2-year grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to restore coastal habitats in south Mobile County, Alabama.
Working in collaboration with partners, the Conservancy is using the funding to create a living shoreline oyster project along two stretches of eroding shoreline in Mobile Bay and Portersville Bay. (Check out the project map)
The project will protect approximately 2 miles of adjacent shoreline with the creation of about 3 acres of oyster reefs. The project will also promote the growth of about 30 acres of seagrass habitat.
Project partners include:
- Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Lands Division,
- Dauphin Island Sea Lab,
- Mobile County, and
- University of South Alabama
Impact on Nature
Using natural methods to promote the growth of oyster reefs, this project is creating an estimated 2,250 meters of submerged breakwater reefs.
These reefs will absorb the impact of wave energy from storms and boat activity, thereby protecting the shoreline from erosion while enhancing habitat for fish, birds and invertebrates.
Submerged oysters also filter impurities from water, helping to improve water quality and enhancing the viability of seagrass meadows and salt marshes, essential habitats for juvenile fish and invertebrates.
Unique Technologies and Science
Unlike traditional methods of vertical bulkheads and other hardened structures that contribute to the loss of important intertidal habitat, the methods used in this project offer a natural approach to coastal shoreline protection that enhances critical habitats for many species of fish and invertebrates.
Three techniques are being used to promote the growth of oyster reefs:
- bagging enough oyster shells to create 750 linear meters worth of breakwater;
- the construction of 3,168 Reef Balls, which will create about 750 linear meters of breakwater; and
- the construction of 492 REEFBLKsm cages, which will create about 750 linear meters of breakwater.
Impact on People
The project is designed to provide a long-term sustainable solution to restoring coastal habitat that has helped to define the livelihoods and quality of life for generations of coastal Alabamians.
Thirty-five to 40 new jobs will be created through this project, making it possible to enhance important fisheries and, in turn, boost local communities that have been hard hit by Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, as well as by drought and economic strife.
A National Trend
The Mobile Bay Project is among 8 Conservancy-wide projects that received funding in July 2009 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through NOAA. During the selection process, NOAA received more than 800 proposals totaling more than $3 billion in requests for restoration funding, yet only $160 million in NOAA funding was available.
This overwhelming response demonstrates the profound need for increased restoration and the stewardship of our oceans and coasts.
|The information on this page was prepared by The Nature Conservancy under award NA09NMF4630304 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA or the U.S. Department of Commerce.|