Orange County Coastkeeper’s program places native oyster and eelgrass restoration at the cornerstone of climate adaptation
ORANGE COUNTY, CA – What if oysters and eelgrass were the secret ingredients to protect Orange County from sea-level rise? Truth is, they could be. This is why Orange County Coastkeeper’s multi-year project, known as “Living Shorelines,” received a grant of $250,000 from the California State Coastal Conservancy to continue its important restoration work in Newport Bay. Since 2012, Coastkeeper and 3,000 community volunteers have successfully planted more than 1,300 square meters of eelgrass in Newport Bay to restore habitats and improve water quality. With the renewed funding, Coastkeeper aims to incorporate native oyster restoration into eelgrass restoration plans to protect threatened tidal zones and native marine species in Upper Newport Bay.
The project restores native oyster and eelgrass populations together to preserve natural processes and habitats, reduce erosion and stabilize shorelines at risk from projected sea-level rise. Coastkeeper says that in order to keep pace with future sea-level rise and other climate related stresses, conservation and restoration of these key habitat-forming species must happen now.
According to National Research Council, 2012, sea level has risen almost eight inches in the past century, and its continued rise poses massive erosion and flooding threats to low-lying shorelines in Upper Newport Bay. Coastkeeper developed the Living Shorelines project to utilize beds of oyster and eelgrass as a buffer zone along the shoreline to protect the shoreline from erosion and provide a habitat that attracts fish, crustaceans and other marine life.
The grant also allows Coastkeeper’s current restoration efforts to measurably expand and bolster efforts to increase community awareness.
“There is a serious need to increase awareness about habitat-forming species in Newport Bay and the inherent benefits they bring to wildlife, the people in our community and the local economy,” says Orange County Coastkeeper Marine Restoration Coordinator Sara Briley. “We hope to expand this technique of nature-based shoreline stabilization to demonstrate how habitat restoration can also aid in climate adaptation.”
Coastkeeper will lead a team of certified divers, students and volunteers to conduct pre-restoration surveys this Fall and will begin volunteer recruitment and outreach in June 2016 with the project continuing through the Summer of 2018. Along the way, volunteers will aid Coastkeeper’s team by planting eelgrass and Olympia oyster beds in strategic locations and monitoring restoration success and effectiveness.
ORANGE COUNTY COASTKEEPER: Founded in 1999, the mission of Coastkeeper is to protect and promote sustainable water resources that are swimmable, drinkable, and fishable. Coastkeeper is a nonprofit clean water organization that serves as a proactive steward of our fresh- and saltwater ecosystems. We work collaboratively with diverse groups in the public and private sectors to achieve healthy, accessible, and sustainable water resources for the region. We implement innovative, effective programs in education, advocacy, restoration, research, enforcement, and conservation. For more information, visit www.coastkeeper.org or call 714-850-1965.