Category Archives: Living Shoreline Projects

April 26, 2018

First you place the Reef Balls,

sediment accumulates

then return and plant marsh grass.

Article retrieved from  https://www.texassaltwaterfishingmagazine.com/fishing/education/conservation/oyster-lake-shoreline-protection-project-completed

Oyster Lake Shoreline Protection Project Completed

John Blaha

Oyster Lake Shoreline Protection Project Completed

June 2014—smooth cord grass being planted shoreward of reef ball breakwater. Photo by Lisa Laskowski.

Shoreline degradation is an ongoing issue that challenges coastal habitat up and down the Texas coast. Shoreline degradation is the result of many issues, some manmade and others natural. Manmade issues include development, the creation of channels through sensitive marsh for commercial purposes, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), and others. Natural issues include consistent prevailing winds impacting shorelines, hurricanes, winter storms and other effects of Mother Nature.

CCA Texas’s Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) program has taken part in several projects that were implemented to protect eroding shorelines, re-nourish shorelines and to prevent the breaching of one ecosystem into another. These projects include a joint effort with Ducks Unlimited Texas and others for shoreline protection along the ICW in the JD Murphree Wildlife Management Area and along the ICW just north of the San Bernard River where important fresh water marsh lakes were being threatened by salt water intrusion from the ICW. CCA Texas also worked with Ducks Unlimited and others in Cow Trap Lake (Brazoria County) where marsh shorelines where losing ground to the elements yearly. Other efforts included those with TPWD in Bird Island Cove in West Galveston Bay and Snake Island Cove with the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), also in West Galveston Bay.

The latest effort to help protect and restore shoreline degradation was recently completed on the far western end of West Galveston Bay along the Oyster Lake shoreline. This shoreline separates West Galveston Bay from Oyster Lake, a sensitive estuary lake accessible from the ICW and connecting creeks from Bastrop Bay. Over time, it is estimated that over 650 feet of shoreline has been lost on the West Galveston Bay side, and 150 feet on the Oyster Lake side since the 1940s due to prevailing wind, currents and hurricanes. Furthermore, the rate of erosion appeared to be accelerating, as since 1995, up to 175 feet of shoreline was lost on the West Bay side and 55 feet from Oyster Lake side. This project was a multi-phase undertaking that used different types of breakwaters designed specifically for shoreline protection and re-nourishment, and stretches across approximately 5,200 linear feet of critical habitat.

Phase I of the project placed 950 feet of shoreline breakwater along the West Galveston Bay and Oyster Lake shorelines. Another 500 linear feet of reef balls were place along the West Galveston Bay shoreline in a 3-wide configuration, and an additional 450 linear feet along the Oyster Lake shoreline in September 2013. The impacts of the breakwater were seen quickly and between September 2013 and June 2014 in the natural deposition of 1,100 cubic yards of material accumulating behind the breakwaters, thereby triggering the rebuilding process. In June 2014, volunteers planted more than 2,000 smooth cord grass sprigs covering .75 acres in the area between the existing shoreline and the breakwater on the West Galveston Bay side. This cord grass was provided by project partner NRG and, since the original planting, the grass has been spreading and filling in the entire planted area.

Phase II construction began in October 2015. This phase of the project utilized limestone riprap to form the breakwater. This breakwater was built in segmented fashion to allow water to flow freely in and out behind the breakwater and deposit materials that will eventually rebuild the shorelines. Phase II was completed in early January 2016 and 4,786 feet of breakwater that protects 5,150 feet of shoreline are now in place to protect Oyster Lake and the vital ecosystem services that it provides. The final steps in the project are to accomplish baseline data collection for annual monitoring and developing a grass planting strategy for the entire project.

Partnerships are crucial in completing projects such as these and CCA Texas is proud to have been a part of the project through the direct contribution of $200,000. This was important as it established groundwork for GBF to secure another $270,000 in matching dollars. These funds along with other funds from project partners bring together many groups in the common cause to help protect and restore vital coastal habitat along the Texas coast. Project partners included Galveston Bay Foundation, CCA Texas, Ducks Unlimited, NOAA, Texas General Land Office, Galveston Bay Estuary Program, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s – Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Texas, coastal flooding from Harvey

There are some Reef Balls that seem to be way underwater along the texas coast.   One of the sites I have been watching is Oyster Lake.  The image below shows a lot of sediment moving down the rivers and into the Gulf.  My hope is to find that the Reef Balls have captured a lot of sediment.  Time will tell.

 

There is a sequence of before and after that is also interesting as the image of the day.    That link will probably change over time.

Source: NASA Satellite Observes Flood Waters Across Texas : Image of the Day

 

https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=90873

 

Audubon Connecticut photos at Stratford Point

Today I was impressed seeing photos at various tidal levels of the Reef Ball Project Stratford Pt. CT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It looks like it was a cold day as the group planted marsh grass that will add to the resilience and create a carbon sink.  Thanks for the great work and I love sharing it on Ocean Week.

You can follow the Group at https://www.facebook.com/pg/StratfordPoint/videos/?ref=page_internal

 

Are Reef Balls good for Coastal Protection?

You might want to talk to Professor Jennifer Mattei who’s project has shown great success.   Or just listen to this video

Read the article from Sacred Harts University at

https://mag.sacredheart.edu/2016/12/12/professor-sees-success-expansion-of-erosion-prevention-project-at-stratford-point-as-model-for-other-coastal-communities/

Article Coexistence-for-crabs-and-humans-on-the-LI-Sound (an article)

Living Shorelines are more than just a breakwater.  You want it to meet the needs of the people as well as a wide variety of organisms.   Think back to why we feel we need to do something.  The answer is simple in the developing world man has had a major impact.  No, many of the systems are over stressed and we need to find better ways to enjoy the water we love and have a viable healthy food source. There is some great research going on in the North East.   I hope you will take this information and build on it in your region.    We at Reef Innovations are happy to share successes and ideas for your project.   Horseshoe crabs and sea turtles also need access to the shoreline.   J.McFarlane

 


 

Download (PDF, 27KB)

CT – 327 more Reef Balls are added to the 64 at Stratford Point

Late 2016 more Reef Balls hit the coast of CT at the site of a pilot project designed for the accretion of soil and protection of marsh grasses.   The pilot project was successful and now, the protected area has increased.   This is a great example of how other estuaries in the NE could protect area’s from erosion,

The Reef Balls were constructed at Reef Innovations site in Sarasota, FL and trucked to CT.  There was some discussion of building in CT but the aggregate would be garnite instead of the Florida limerock used in the pilot project.   Observation in Jim McFarlane’s surveys of sites from CT to LA  showed few encrusting species on granite.  McFarlane’s belief was that Reef Balls more resembled a natural oyster reef structure when made with materials from Sarasota.  The practice of constructing Reef Balls with local materials in one used around the world, so it would be easy for someone to do a study in about every ecosystem you can imagine.  I look forward to someone doing some surveys of the Stratford Point site during high tides, as an evaluation of plagic species visiting the area.


This article was retrieved from the CT  Post  Dec 2017   http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Creating-a-living-shoreline-with-Reef-Balls-10778523.php#item-38492   Photo comments were added by J.McFarlane

STRATFORD — Jennifer Mattei crouched along the low-tide mark at Stratford Point to scoop up a mound of inky gray sediment in the palm of her hand.

It is proof, the Sacred Heart University biology professor said, that her Reef Balls are working to restore the beach.

Her meandering rows of thousand-pound, dome-shaped cement balls create an artificial reef. Each ball is punctuated with holes that allow the tide and small sea creatures through. Over the past couple, years the reef, planted just off shore, has begun to not only stop erosion but reverse it — enough for Mattei to win another grant to expand her work.

 “It’s working beautifully,” Mattei said Tuesday of what many in the field call a “living shoreline.”

A swath of sediment estimated at four feet deep and 100 feet wide has disappeared along the of shoreline over the past three decades. The property is now owned by the DuPont Corp. and managed by the Audubon Society.

So far, surveyors periodically measuring the terrain estimate sediment about 12 inches thick has re-accumulated over the past two years behind the barrier.

The just-announced $115,198 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fundwill be used this summer, with the aid of a team of Sacred Heart students, to plant thousands of marsh grass plugs along the shoreline in front of the barrier.

The pilot study began with 64 Reef Balls. This November, another 327 were added with the help of DuPont and the Army Corps of Engineers. Mattei checks on them periodically, searching for signs of algae, barnacles and any oysters that now call them home.

At one time, reefs made of clinging oysters protected the shoreline. They disappeared centuries ago.

It was the oysters, the horseshoe crabs, the piping plover and all other species, Mattei said, that got her into this kind of research. Those creatures depend on the shoreline and their access has been compromised by decades of beach erosion and climate change.

“The ocean level is rising,” Mattei said. “Storm frequency is increasing. Global climate change is real.”

Seawalls don’t help. They hurt. When waves crash against them, sediment is pulled away from the shore and sea creatures lose access to the shore.

Mattei hit upon the idea of Reef Balls, which got their start in Florida to protect coral. The are made with a special cement formula that resists erosion and heavy enough to withstand hurricanes. The holes are positioned so that when a wave hits, the water shoots through more gently.

Although used worldwide, they are rare in Connecticut. Scientists like Juliana Barrett, with the University of Connecticut Center for Land Use Education and Research hopes that will soon change.

Barrett said state law now severely restricts the construction of traditional seawalls. Mattei’s project is a great example of an alternative.

“What she is doing is really, really important,” Barrett, said. “She is creating a living shoreline I hope will be replicated. She has the most extensive project going on.”

In addition to rebuilding dunes and salt marsh grass, Mattei said she also has her eye on sediment she expects to be dredged next fall from the nearby boat channel at the mouth of the Housatonic River, on the opposite end of Stratford’s beach front.

Although some is earmarked for Hammonasett Beach in Madison, Mattei said, some directed her way would speed up her stabilization project.

“I hope this can become a demonstration site for what to do,” Mattei said.

 

Stratford Point, erosion of the peat and marsh grasses. The new Reef Ball Breakwater will stop the erosion allowing marsh grass with roots up to 9ft deep to hold the soil in place.  J. McFarlane   Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media
Original Reef Balls are darker toward the shoreline. Brighter Balls are ones placed in 2016
Interesting arrangement, as we learn more about the accretions of sand we found a spit forming at the inside of arcs as is visible on the original Reef Ball Breakwater at the far left. J.McFarlane    Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Hearst Connecticut Media

 

Reef Innovations supporting the NC Coastal Federation

Jim will be heading to North Carolina to represent Reef Innovations and the Reef Ball Foundation at

Sound Economic Development: Creating a Rising Economic Tide for the N.C. Coast  Raleigh, NC

Breakwater Project – Morris Landing NC 2016, Survey by Jim McFarlane – Notice Oyster intertidal, balls on bottom of the picture are closer to shoreline, and a couple inches lower. I noticed the water wasn’t as clear as boat traffic picked up and many of them were still underwater at Low tide.

Change your Bulkhead! Morris Landing seemed untouched by hurricane in 2016

“One of our projects, Morris Landing, seemed untouched by the hurricane; the sill structure looked as it did before and that’s the point of them,” Skrabal said, a coastal scientist with the federation.

The comparative studies or living shoreline treatments by The North Carolina Coastal Federation, shows the value of homeowners taking steps other than bulkheads to protect their shoreline from erosion during high energy events.

Prior to the hurricane I surveyed the site that consists of  rows of Reef Balls that have oysters growing on the.  The site also compares Shell Baggs,  A freestanding bulkhead, granite riprap, and loose oyster shell.

It was great hearing they didn’t have any loss of shoreline at this site during the storm.  A 360degree video of the Morris landing site is at http://reefinnovations.com/archives/4383


Article Retrieved from:  http://www.coastalreview.org/2016/12/living-shorelines-withstand-matthews-force/

Living Shorelines Withstand Matthew’s Force

Third in a multi-part series

HOLLY RIDGE – When Hurricane Matthew approached North Carolina in October, many in the state – from scientists to casual observers – watched to see the effects on shorelines. Storm surge and increased wave action can visibly wear away the coast. How would properties with bulkheads fare? Or, for those with wetlands conservation in mind, would living shorelines deliver what they promised?

Living shorelines are designed to protect vulnerable marsh habitats. In the case of hurricanes, though, living shorelines are also meant to be filters of stormwater runoff and to mitigate the erosion caused by the water that inevitably comes with the storms.

North Carolina Coastal Federation staff, with the help of volunteers, built a 310-foot living shoreline this year at Morris Landing. Photo: North Carolina Coastal Federation

North Carolina Coastal Federation staff, with the help of volunteers, built a 310-foot living shoreline this year at Morris Landing. Photo: North Carolina Coastal Federation

Larry Jansen chose his home in Holly Ridge’s Preserve at Morris Landing in part because of water and coastal access. As a volunteer with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, he’s been watching the 310-foot living shoreline completed there in July as the fifth phase of an ongoing restoration project, and he returned to the site soon after the hurricane passed through.

“I couldn’t really see any impact at all,” Jansen said.

Living shoreline proponents say that’s no surprise.

“For the most part, these shorelines are behaving exactly the way we expect them to,” said Tracy Skrabal, a coastal scientist with the federation.

Living shorelines are generally made with a permeable sill, such as bagged oyster shells or rock, that follows the natural slope of the land, with marsh grasses and other wetland plants behind.

Tracy Skrabal

Tracy Skrabal

“When the water rushes up, there’s nothing impeding the flow,” Skrabal said. So, they are designed for the water to come in and go back out.

Although these observations are a good sign, there is more meticulous work being done in the aftermath of the hurricane. Carter Smith is a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City.

“It started about a year and a half ago, with the goal of comparing how bulkheads, living shorelines and natural shorelines perform in major storm events,” Smith said of the research.

In the weeks since the hurricane, Smith has visited the project’s 30 study sites from Southport to Manteo.

Carter Smith

Carter Smith

At each, there are comparable shoreline structures that will face similar storm surge and wave energy. For the purposes of the study, living shorelines are those that have had some type of restoration work, such as the addition of marsh sills and aquatic plantings, and natural shorelines are unmodified. Both are compared to the hardened bulkhead type structures that are common along the coast. In the coming months, Smith will work on assessing the post-storm effects. Right now, though, she has made some preliminary findings.

“For the living shorelines, I would say there are no detectable instances of damage,” Smith said. For natural shorelines, there was measurable marsh erosion. “In some cases, a loss of over five meters (about 16.4 feet) from last year.”

Some bulkheads remained intact, but there are some stretches where bulkheads were damaged. Hardened structures such as bulkheads can fail in a number of ways during storms and the damage is often obvious.

“What we see is that the vertical surface of bulkheads is more susceptible to high-energy events,” Skrabal said. “And storm waves can scour away what’s in front of them.”

The same can happen behind the bulkhead, when saltwater overlaps the structure and weakens it, causing structural damage or collapse.

Smith’s project also includes conducting boat surveys along 100 kilometers, or about 62 miles, of North Carolina shorelines, taking photos and noting the location coordinates of damaged structures.

“I would say that at least 50 percent of the bulkheads we surveyed were damaged, from minor damage to full-on collapse,” Smith said.

A post-storm assessment is also expected to be released by the Division of Coastal Management, analyzing how sills, marshes and bulkheads fared during the storm.

For years, coastal conservationists have been championing living shorelines for protection of marsh habitat.

Students plants marsh grasses to create a living shoreline on Jones Island in the White Oak River.

Students plants marsh grasses to create a living shoreline on Jones Island in the White Oak River. File photo

“When you look at bulkheads, they ecologically bisect the habitat,” Skrabal said. “Marsh needs sediment, and they (bulkheads) tend to starve them of that with erosion and wave energy.”

Conservationists also have been encouraging property owners to consider living shorelines for better, more sustainable protection of their property. But bulkheads are by far the most popular choice for property owners. A previous study from the Institute of Marine Sciences estimates that as much as 9 to 16 percent of the coast is protected with bulkheads, and permits for bulkheads are easier to obtain. Whereas, it can be more difficult, months-long process to get permits needed to install a living shoreline. Bulkheads are more expensive, though, and can cost thousands of dollars, depending on the length of the shoreline.

“And the cost of repairing bulkheads after storms is considerable, too,” Skrabal said. It is her hope that the example of how well living shorelines did during the storm will convince more homeowners to consider them rather than repairing or replacing bulkheads.

Erin Fleckenstein

Erin Fleckenstein

“One of our projects, Morris Landing, seemed untouched by the hurricane; the sill structure looked as it did before and that’s the point of them,” Skrabal said.

This resiliency is something Erin Fleckenstein, a coastal scientist with the federation’s northeast office, has noticed, too. She cited a homeowner at Silver Lake Harbor on Ocracoke Island who had a living shoreline built there this past summer.

“Before, they were facing considerable erosion, mostly due to ferry traffic,” Fleckenstein said. But the owner reached out to Fleckenstein after the hurricane and made a point of saying how pleased they were with the erosion control and how well the shoreline did.

Survey Photos from Point Pinole

Survey Pictures from California.

California
Photo by Helen Dickson

Point Pinole reef

photo by Sheryl Drinkwater


Pt. Pinole Monitoring 2

photo by Helen Dickson


What’s on the Reef?

First Colonizers – build it and they will come!

By Helen Dickson

reef1As we say hello to 2015, we also wrap up our first year monitoring our oyster reef on the Point Pinole Shoreline. We’ve found some great things!

First, and most important, we found our native Olympia oysters! These crusty creatures were the impetus for the reef project, and we are happy to report that they have found their new habitat and are settling in nicely. They are present by the hundreds on the reef balls, and they have grown an average of 220% since August–that means they have more than tripled their body size in just four months!

Olympia oysters are smaller than the Pacific oysters that we commonly think of (and eat), so these young bivalves are still pretty small: about a third of an inch in length. They can expect to get a few inches bigger before they’re fully grown.

reef2Oyster larvae are only motile for a short time before they pick a spot and settle down. They need a hard surface to attach to, such as a rock or the shells of adult oysters. The sediment that washed down into the bay during the gold mining days covered up many of the habitable spots, and now hard surfaces are at a premium. The oyster reef balls, made of bay sand, oyster shell and concrete, provide nice hard spots for oysters to settle down and get to their life’s work: filtering water. As filter feeders, Olympia oysters strain their food from the water, filtering about 50 gallons of water per day and doing their part to keep the bay clean and healthy.

Our other reef inhabitants are barnacles. They are also filter feeders, but they have a specialized skill set: while oysters and most other filter feeders internally filter water, barnacles actually reach out of the shelter of their shells with long, feathery limbs and grab food particles from the water. Smaller than oysters, barnacles tend to grow on any hard substrate they can find, up to and including marine animals such as whales.

Oysters and barnacles tend to be among the first colonizers of new spaces in the marine world. They can weather harsh environments and end up creating more suitable habitat for many other life forms, including nudibranchs, crabs, and even small fish. This community is not always a welcome addition: for example, presence of these “fouling organisms” on boat hulls can create so much drag in the water that fuel efficiency drops, sometimes drastically. However, to us this community of hardy invertebrates communicates a healthy and prosperous bay.

reef3We witnessed another magic moment that brought home the fact that the reef is fulfilling its purpose. It came in the form of a beautiful bird, near sundown, on a stormy December day: a Great Egret was spied fishing amongst the reef balls, a sure sign that life is moving into the reef.

If you’re interested in learning more and volunteering to monitor the reef, please contact Helen Dickson (helen@thewatershedproject.org).




We Have Deployment!

100 Reef Balls Create a Native Oyster Reef

By Chris Lim

oysterreef1Hooray, we finally did it! This past Friday, we adorned the San Francisco Bay with our native oyster reefalong the North Richmond shoreline in Point Pinole Regional Park. Friday’s installation was a culmination of many days and years of demanding work, work highlighting people’s dedication to making the Bay a healthier place. Work either touched by an agency ally, community volunteer, or local supporter.

A range of people attended this eventful day, each with a common connection: the Olympia oyster. As the only oyster native to the west coast of North America, we all appreciate the role oysters play in a healthy ecosystem. Oysters provide habitat for small organisms such as amphipods, worms, and crabs, that are food for larger animals like salmon and birds.

Under a bright sun and pleasant breeze, community members enjoyed oysters on the half shell, while observing the crew of Dixon Marine Services, a local oceanographic company, lower 100 reef balls into the water. Throughout the day, people had a variety of questions about our 250 pound reef balls, but the one on the tip of everyone’s tongue was, “Can we eat the oysters growing on them?” We need people to understand that our project is rooted in science and the oysters are NOT to be eaten. Our Bay and its infinite connections to the people of the Bay, is inevitably affected by the pollution entering our Estuary. Oysters are filter feeders, so in order to eat, adult oysters filter almost 10 gallons of water per day. Oysters can store some of these pollutants in their bodies, and excrete them as well. But one day we envision a swimmable and edible Bay.oysterreef2

Though our project is rooted in science our native oyster reef is really about our community. This reef will benefit the health of San Francisco Bay for years to come because a small group of proactive people decided to make positive environmental choices together. Whether one helped push through a permit, got dirty making reef balls, monitored oysters, or donated services, their imprint is a lasting part of the oyster reef. The reef is another opportunity to connect people with their watershed. The reef becomes an outdoor classroom in our high school curriculum, Wild! Oysters. Students come face-to-face with actual live oysters in the field and monitor them just as marine scientists would. We will also engage community volunteers to monitor the reef for oyster recruitment and the percent cover of other organisms.volunteers

We all worked together to do something good for our Bay, and provide Mother Nature with the kick-start she needs. So now the reef balls will allow nature to take its course, letting hundreds of thousands newly attached oysters, or spat, to filter pollutants from the Bay. Our reef is a great example of what an organized community is able to accomplish.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the monitoring of native oysters, please check our upcoming events and contact Chris Lim.

Photo Credits: Andrew Whitmore, Greening Urban Watersheds Intern



Stay in touch with what is going on at  The Watershed Project     http://www.thewatershedproject.org/WhatWeDo/WhatWeDo.html