Posted by CCA Florida
Last Updated: 09 November 2015
For more than a decade, CCA Florida and hundreds of local CCA chapter members have contributed thousands of volunteer hours and acquired funding to help restore Florida's fragile marine habitat. Volunteers have contributed to offshore and nearshore reef development, oyster bar restoration, shoreline stabilization, and planted literally hundreds of acres of saltmarsh, seagrass beds and mangroves. Many of these projects were partially or wholly funded through foundation grants acquired by CCA Florida, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust Fund, and from donations by local CCA chapters and generous individual members.
Andy McAlexander from the South Walton Chapter set up a non-profit association to build reefs and oyster habitat restoration projects along the gulf shores of Walton County in the Panhandle. On July 10, 2015 the South Walton Artificial Reef Association (SWARA) deployed the first half of 58 artificial reef structures off of Grayton Beach State Park. This is the first of several snorkel and fishing reefs planned that will span across south Walton County. The completion of this reef is set for the end of September or early October 2015. An additional 684 structures will also be deployed sometime between Fall 2015 and Spring 2016.
Tampa Bay Watch, in partnership with the Florida Aquarium and CCA Florida, has proposed a shoreline stabilization project that will allow the creation of new oyster dome and oyster bar habitat along the southern shoreline of Fantasy Island. The proposed oyster dome field and oyster shell bar have been designed to help stabilize approximately 700’ of severely eroding shoreline, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem. CCA Florida received a generous matching challenge grant award from the Duckwall Foundation for $25,000.CCA Florida and Tampa Bay Watch must raise $50,000 to get the matching funds. The money will be used for the construction of the project and for community involvement. Please contact Don Roberts if you can contribute to this important project!
CCA Florida recently teamed up with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Research Institute (FWRI) to apply for a grant from the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership (SARP). SARP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/National Fish Habitat Partnership (NFHP) provide funding opportunities for individuals, organizations and institutions to participate in the ongoing process of conservation, management and restoration.
CCA Florida and the Lee County Department of Natural Resources partnered to deploy the USCGC Mohawk to its final resting place. The 165-foot World War II Coast Guard Cutter, "Mohawk" was the last remaining ship of the Battle of the Atlantic. The Mohawk was laid to rest in 90 feet of water on July 2, 2012 approximately 28 nautical miles off of Sanibel Island on Florida’s southwest coast, creating the first Veterans Memorial Reef dedicated to all U.S. veterans.
The Goggle Eye Reef was once a productive reef that was completely smothered by sand 10 to 15 years ago. On September 15, 2015, about 700 tons of limestone boulders and scrap concrete were dumped into the ocean about a half-mile northeast of the Boynton Beach Inlet in an effort to rebuild the natural reef that had been degraded by years storms and shifting sand. Workers on a tugboat and a 200-foot barge spent most of the day at the reef site. J.D. Dickenson of the South Palm Beach chapter of the CCA Florida, which spearheaded the project, and Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management engineers monitored the reef construction. CCA Florida raised $85,000 in grants and donations to build the reef, which will provide ideal habitats for fish on the natural limestone Goggle Eye Reef, which was covered by sand.
Marine fisheries and recreational angling off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, recently got a boost with the placement of 40 artificial reef cells in 88 feet of water in August 2015. The CCA Building Conservation Trust contributed $25,000 to the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation for the project, which utilized innovative reefing materials to create a thriving new ecosystem. The site for the project off Jupiter is currently flat, featureless sand plains near the existing Zion Train, Miss Jenny and ESSO Bonaire “Wreck Trek.” The new reef cells rise up to eight feet off the sea floor and create interconnected cavities and surfaces exposed to sunlight and water current. The structures are designed to provide a specific habitat environment favored by a wide range of marine organisms so that where there is now only flat sand, a flourishing ecosystem will develop.
The Treasure Coast Chapter of CCA continues to work with the Vero Beach Rotary Club on two projects on the Mooring Flats in the Indian River. Paul Dritenbas, an architect, fishing guide, Rotarian and unwavering CCA volunteer, is leading an effort called Rotary Initiative for Submerged Seagrass Awareness (RISSA) that now surround the grass flats with a ring of buoys and warning signs to protect it from damage by powerboats.
On August 7, 2015, twenty-four “Florida limestone” modules were deployed east of the popular 8A reef off the Brevard coast. The modules are made of concrete and natural stone intended to attract marine growth as quickly as possible. At 8 feet tall and with a 10-foot triangular base, each module boasts over 367 square feet of surface area. The reef was deployed in a 4-by-6 grid with 20 feet between each module and weighed in at over 72 tons of material.
Since 2008, CCA Orlando life member Greg Harrison CCA Florida has been partnering with the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Brevard Zoo on several oyster restoration and shoreline stabilization projects in the Mosquito Lagoon. Greg was instrumental in getting many volunteers to assist over the years with what is quickly becoming Florida’s most publicized habitat project. To date, the number of volunteers on this project total 44,563 for oyster restoration and 7,270 for living shorelines. That’s an amazing total of 51,833 volunteers to date!
CCA Florida assisted with the splash down of two new fishing reefs less than half a mile from the I-95 Bridge over the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville in 2014. The total cost of the project was $60,000 and the Jacksonville Chapter of CCA Florida raised 50 percent of the necessary funding. The Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s national habitat program, garnered support from country music star Kenny Chesney and Costa Sunglasses among others for donations for the remaining $30,000 to the project. Named the Coastal Conservation Association and George Holt Reefs, the man-made reefs were designed to promote quality of aquatic life. They were built through the support of Kenny Chesney’s ongoing partnership with Costa Del Mar Sunglasses and the CCA Building Conservation Trust. An east Tennessee songwriter/superstar, Chesney visited the completed reefs in June 2015.
CCA Florida conducted and funded a seagrass restoration project in Florida Bay in 2009 and 2010. The overall goal of the project was to help restore damaged seagrass beds. Of the many different industry accepted techniques to complete seagrass restoration, a method known as “bird staking” was implemented. “Bird staking” is accomplished by driving PVC stakes with wooden blocks on top into the damaged areas, birds then use the stakes as a perch and their excrement acts as a fertilizer stimulating the seagrasses to grow in the affected area. There were 100 bird stakes and one restoration informational sign installed as part of this effort. The National Parks Service (NPS) was onsite during the installation of the stakes and approved the final construction of the project. The restoration took place on Upper Cross Bank in the Florida Bay within Everglades National Park along the southern boundary, just east and north of Tavernier Creek.
The project came about through the hard work and dedication of CCA Florida Board members Adam Gelber and Mike Kennedy. A respected authority on the subject of seagrasses, Gelber worked long and hard to get the project off the ground. With the project being located within a National Park, CCA Florida was required to get permission through the NPS via the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which can be a lengthy and time consuming process due to consultation requirements for potential impacts to threatened and endangered species with the NPS’ sister federal agencies. Eventually, the persistence paid off and the resource won out. CCA members from around the state converged on Florida Bay to help with the installation. Special thanks go to Diane Harbaugh for her unwavering support to coordinate volunteer assistance and finding an access point in the Keys. Special thanks also to CCA Florida Chairman Bill Bird and CCA Florida Vice Chairman Jeff Allen for their help with the installation of the bird stakes.