Thanks to some recent deliveries, the Littoral Society is ready to begin a project along Forked River Beach in Lacey Township, NJ that will help reduce erosion at the site, while also improving water quality in Barnegat Bay.
Thanks to those deliveries, which were delayed by several months due to supply chain issues, the Society has begun scheduling volunteer events. The first two will be held on November 3 and 4 (click here for more information or to register).
On October 25, 28,000 pounds of HESCO lids, baskets, and accessories arrived at the staging site near Forked River Beach. Two more deliveries are coming and the material will be used to build seven, 200-foot long, double-rowed oyster reef segments.
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.
Images show erosion that has occurred at the site of the Forked River living shoreline site.
Historically, Barnegat Bay had over 12,000 acres of eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) beds. Yet today, nearly the entire natural oyster population is gone. With their elimination, Barnegat Bay not only lost the oysters themselves, but the ecosystem services they provided such as water filtration, wave energy mitigation, and nursery habitat.
The reef segments will consist of HESCO units, which are portable protective barriers often used by the US military that have been adapted for reef and living shoreline work. Imagine a steel wire crate, four feet tall and three feet wide, that can be filled with various kinds of material.
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.
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.
We have a narrow time frame for the initial work and hope to have the reefs in by December 31. Plans are to come back in late spring/early summer 2022 and add the live shell to the inshore reefs and transplant some eel grass. We also are planning a native plant workshop for the spring.
For more info on the project go to https://www.littoralsociety.org/forked-river-beach.html.
In other news, the Littoral Society Habitat Restoration and Education teams recently did a dune planting in Bradley Beach working with the education department and the “Grasses in Classes” program where about 20 members of the Bradley Beach Elementary School Environmental Club helped plant 350 beach grass plugs. The children learned about the importance of dunes and then planted the afternoon away (click here to read more).
The week prior the Ecological Conservation class from Kean University came to the Shark River Island Living Shoreline site where they planted about 250 goldenrod. You can see the instructional videos and photos on the Littoral Society YouTube Channel and elsewhere in the newsletter.
After the ‘Shark River Island event, the Kean University students took a tour of the Julie Schreck Bradley Beach Maritime Forest and then planted 500 plugs of beach grass on the dunes in front of the forest. It was their first hands-on restoration experience since the pandemic.