Oysters for Coastal Restoration

More than a seafood delicacy, oysters are an incredible natural resource. They are extremely helpful to our environment by filtering water, providing habitat, and controlling erosion. Adult oysters may filter up to two and a half gallons of water per hour, which in turn improves water quality. Oysters build reefs that provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other aquatic animals. Oyster larvae need the hard, shell surface for settlement and growth. A special focus that has been put on oysters recently is their ability to control land erosion.

Oyster reefs have been constructed along eroding shorelines in an effort to lessen wave energy and ultimately reduce erosion. Seven of our nation’s fifteen largest shipping ports are located along the Gulf of Mexico. The wakes created by the cargo ships heighten erosion along an already disappearing coastline.

Globally, it is estimated that 85% of oyster reefs have been lost. Large-scale restoration projects can create man-made oyster reefs that duplicate many of the benefits of natural reefs. Oysters and the massive reefs provide a foundation for a healthy ecosystem. The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) founded the Oyster Shell Recycling Program in 2014. This program collects shells from New Orleans area restaurants and utilizes the shells to restore fading oyster reefs that protect Louisiana’s coastline.  A majority of shell removed from the coast is not returned back to the waters. It is vital to Louisiana’s disappearing coastline that oyster shells are brought back to help as a line of defense for coastal restoration.

 

CWPPRA

Did you know:

CWPPRA has protected, created, or restored approximately 96,806 acres of wetlands in Louisiana.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act has funded coastal restoration projects for 26 years. Presently, CWPPRA has 153 total active projects, 108 completed projects, 17 active construction projects, 23 projects currently in Engineering and Design and has enhanced more than 355,647 acres of wetlands . These projects provide for the long-term conservation of wetlands and dependent fish and wildlife populations. Projects funded by CWPPRA are cost-effective ways of restoring, protecting, and enhancing coastal wetlands. CWPPRA has a proven track record of superior coastal restoration science and monitoring technique in Louisiana. The success of the CWPPRA program has been essential in providing critical ecosystem stabilization along Louisiana’s coast and has provided pioneering solutions for land loss.

Visit CWPPRA’s website for more information!

Plants of the Wetlands

smooth cordgrassFound at the interfaces of land formations and water, smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) is an herbaceous, native grass that densely inhabits shorelines. Compact, vegetative smooth cordgrass colonies grow along shorelines and inter-tidal flats of coastal wetlands such as canal banks, levees, marshes, barrier islands, and other regions of soil-water interface. This grass is highly adaptable to a variation of water depths and salinity levels making it a resilient species heavily used for coastal restoration. With an extensive rhizome system, smooth cordgrass is also highly effective as a soil stabilizer for loose soils, contributing to anchorage of the plants and sediment, as well as decrease of erosion effects. Smooth cordgrass acts as a natural buffer which dissipates energy of storm surge and wind impact to interior lands.

The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act frequently uses smooth cordgrass plugs during vegetative plantings due to the plant’s insensitivity to water and salinity levels, and its success in significant erosion protection to shorelines.

smooth cordgrass 3

Plants of the Wetlands

Did you know:

Coastal wetland plants are indicators of soil and hydrologic conditions.

Wetlands and vegetation go hand-in-hand when it comes to the success of a healthy coastal ecosystem. The diminished well-being of a wetland plant community often beacons unfavorable conditions of soil or water quality.

Wetland vegetation reduces erosion primarily by damping and absorbing wave and current energy and by binding and stabilizing the soil with roots. Also, plants are the base of the food chain and can build new layers of material on top of wetlands that support sustainability. The Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act uses the vegetative planting technique involving flood- and salt-tolerant native marsh plants to establish erosion reduction, soil stabilization, and accelerated wildlife habitat development.

 

Source