After months of delay due to supply chain issues, the work at Forked River Beach finally got underway in early November with the delivery of materials for building offshore reefs. Called HESCOs, these galvanized wire baskets will be put together by volunteers, then carried by barge to the reef site and filled with stone (to anchor them) and shell (to give oysters a home).
With the help of our new best friend and partner Aaron Ackley, who represents HESCO, the Littoral Society restoration team, along with staff from ReClam the Bay, immediately began learning the most efficient ways to build the HESCO arrays.
What we learned was conveyed to more than 20 volunteers who attended training events on November 9. The Lacey Department of Public Works was also on hand as well and provided a trash and recycling can, has helped us with large trash removal, and also gave us 4 sawhorses and lumber which we made into the perfect side panel chicken wire attachment stations.
Besides providing insight on how to best streamline assembly of the HESCOs, those initial training sessions also launched our volunteer work days, which will be focused on constructing enough baskets for seven, 200-foot long, double-rowed oyster reef segments.
For this project, each HESCO unit/reef segment will consist of three connected galvanized steel baskets surrounded by eight outer pockets (aka shell faces). The interior baskets will be filled with rock, while the outer shell faces will be filled with a mix of recycled shell. For half of the reefs, the recycled shell mix will be seeded with up to 70 million oyster larvae.
The reefs will be located offshore and run from the mouth of Forked River in the north, near Bayfront Park, to a lagoon located at the southern end of Beach Boulevard. This section has lost over a hundred feet of shoreline since 1995. Erosion rate is accelerating: abut 20 feet of shoreline were lost in 2017 alone.
On November 10, another load of HESCO material arrived and, with the help of eight volunteers, 13 units were completed. At the same time, four finished baskets were moved to the area staked out for the reef in order to determine if assembly needed any tweaks. Another 18 units were put together on Veterans Day with the help of a number of volunteers - including several veterans.
Volunteer work days will continue Monday through Friday until December 18 (weather permitting). Click here for more information and to register.
We are also starting Saturday volunteer events until Christmas for college students, which will allow those aspiring practitioners to gain hands-on restoration experience. A schedule of those event dates will be posted, and flyers will be provided electronically to Stockton University, Ocean County College, Kean University, Monmouth University, Stevens Institute, Rowan University, Georgian Court University, Rutgers University, and the Ocean County MATES program.
Hopes are to have the reefs in by December 3, then come back in late spring/early summer 2022 and add the live shell to the inshore reefs and transplant some eel grass.
Help with the project has come from a number of sources. The Jetty Rock Foundation is providing a significant amount of recycled shell, while Lacey Township - the municipality surrounding the living shoreline site - has been providing in-kind support.
Stockton University will conduct base-line monitoring and project design, which will lead directly to staking reef locations. Albert Marine, the project contractor, will place the HESCOs based on the work by Stockton.
We are also working with ReClam the Bay and Rutgers Coastal Stewardship Program to coordinate volunteer involvement to help construct the HESCO baskets.
Thanks again to our volunteers, our veterans, and all our partners. This restoration project is off to a great start and truly shows how important teamwork, communication, and partnerships are. Stay tuned for next week’s updates and see you at the site!
For more info on the project go to https://www.littoralsociety.org/forked-river-beach.html.