Shell-filled Hesco Baskets and Oyster Pens deployed as a pilot at Forked River Beach
Last year was challenging, but that didn’t stop habitat restoration work by the American Littoral Society. And thanks to the success of previous projects, along with being awarded a number of new grants, the Society and its restoration team have even bigger plans for 2021.
In the coming year, we will be highlighting a different habitat restoration project each month in order to keep friends and supporters of the Littoral Society better informed of the work we are doing, as well their short-term and long-term goals.
Despite an international pandemic that left the Society unable to host volunteer events, the Restoration team – which includes Shane, Zack, Quinn, Julie, Capt. Al Modjeski – got a few things done. Among those projects were:
Beyond that, the Society was awarded additional funding to continue work at on Delaware Bay beaches and proposed sites in Barnegat Bay, and prepared a proposal for continued monitoring of the restoration project at Wreck Pond in Spring Lake, NJ.
Despite restrictions on in-person gatherings and volunteer events, the restoration team was able to meet and interact with members and supporters through webinars and videos. Those efforts will continue even if social distancing protocols are eased.
Finally, one of the Delaware Bay beach projects resulted in a national award from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association for “Best Restored Shoreline in 2020.”
Newly Restored Cooks Beach
Thanks to new grants and ongoing projects, 2021 will be a busy year. The following is a quick summary of the work that will be undertaken.
The Society will continue shell recycling, monitoring and alewife tagging at Wreck Pond and our upstream fish ladder next to Old Mill Pond. The Bradley Beach Maritime Forest restoration will also continue and we will expand our restoration at Slade Dale Nature Preserve in Point Pleasant. In the Two Rivers area, work to monitor water quality will be accompanied by an effort to find an acceptable location for turning recycled shells into a reef.
A project at Forked River Beach in Barnegat Bay will involve the creation of eight to 10 double-rowed oyster reefs on the bayside of Lacey Township, along with a hybrid terminal groin at the south to trap downdrifting sand to begin natural rebuilding of more than 100 feet of eroded shoreline.
Those plans also include seeding the reefs with up to 70M oyster larvae. This is the first time the Society has officially partnered with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection Bureau of Shellfisheries and hopes are it will lead to more opportunities in the state.
These reefs are important because they will reduce the force of waves that are eroding the shoreline, including some residential properties. Plans include restoring the shoreline to a more natural state and monitoring to see how returning oysters is affecting surrounding water quality.
The current reef pilot project was funded by US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and installed during the pandemic. That work will guide us on the best restoration techniques to employ. We are also working with Stockton University on similar reef restoration opportunities in Seaside Park and Lavallette.
At the Shark River Inlet, planning and preparation are underrway for two separate, one at the northwestern tip of Shark River Island, which will involve the creation of a marsh sill during the summer, and the other along 2000 linear feet of shoreline at S. Riverside Drive in Shark River Hills.
That work will mimic our restoration projects along New Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore and are expected to restore valuable horseshoe crab spawning beach while protecting nearby residences with the addition of intertidal reefs.
The Littoral Society will be extremely busy in Delaware Bay over the next few years after being award grants on all four of the restoration proposals submitted to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. As a result, work will continue on beach and intertidal reef restoration, with the addition of hybrid living breakwaters intended to further reduce the force of waves.
As part of those grants, the Society has been awarded $4.8 million to restore the mouth of the Maurice River in Cumberland county. The plan is to create hybrid breakwaters to protect Basket Flats and Northwest Reach, create ribbed mussel beds and subtidal shelled reefs, while also restoring native plants along a marsh edge.
As part of a stewardship grant, there will also be further work to protect Red Knots and horseshoe crabs. Working with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, the NJDEP, and other partners, the Society will be looking for volunteers to help spread the word about the importance of Delaware Bay beaches. Efforts will include creation of video, printed material, and signage, as well as collaboration with municipalities to improve protection for the shorebirds and horseshoe crabs during their May to June spawning and migration. Hopefully, our US Veterans will get involved as well.
Jenkinson’s Aquarium in Point Pleasant, NJ continues to be partner in Society restoration and outreach work in Barnegat Bay, as well as efforts to grow oysters in Ocean Gate and Red Bank. The aquarium has signed on to continue donating oyster larvae for the Society’s spat tanks at those locations, as well as helping with efforts to help people understand how oysters and their reefs fit into the coastal ecosystem.
Work will also continue with collecting shell from restaurants in the Two Rivers area. Plans include putting that recycled shell to use through protecting some marsh islands.
Other Great Stuff
Capt. Al Modjeski, director of the Littoral Society’s Habitat Restoration Program (along with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and NY/NJ Baykeeper) will continue to co-chair the NJ Coastal Resilience Collaborative’s Ecological Restoration and Science Subcommittee and work on the state’s Coastal Ecological Restoration and Adaptation Plan (CERAP).
The Restoration Program also remains available to municipalities and organizations seeking help with living shorelines projects. Seaside Park, NJ recently passed a resolution to enable Society help with such projects and the borough of Seagirt has requested help, in cooperation with USFWS, in restoring Edgemere Park and the Terraces (along the shoreline of Wreck Pond).
Work will also continue on an innovative project at Sylvan Lake in Bradley Beach as part of the Society’s Coastal Lakes Initiative. The project could set a precedent for other coastal lake restorations.