Private, government groups join to fight Bon Secour River erosion

BON SECOUR, Ala. (WALA) – The waterfront community along the Bon Secour River is no stranger to seeing its shorelines shrink.

“We’ve had erosion over the years and it’s continued to get worse, especially as we get a lot of boat traffic here,” Bob Bergman, secretary for Taylor’s Riverview Park Homeowner’s Association, said.

The association made a call to the Nature Conservancy for their advice and they were more than willing to lend a hand.

“We said we have things that we’ve been doing to help protect our shorelines, can we come out and help you with that? And they said yes. So we decided to get together with them and do a reef building project that will also help protect their shoreline,” Judy Haner said. She’s the marine and fresh water programs director for the Nature Conservancy.

The reefs are made by stacking oyster castles, 35 pound cinder blocks, which help to cut down on boat wave impact and also provide a home for oysters, mussels and barnacles.

The Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also pitched in to help. Funding also came from the Baldwin County Soil and Water Conservation District.

“It’s been a huge effort from the standpoint of getting everybody involved and we’ve had just excellent help from especially the Nature Conservancy because their the ones that donated these blocks to us,” Bergman said.

It took over 1000 of the oyster castles to pull off the project. Haner said because about 80 percent of the land along the rivers is privately owned, protecting the shorelines wouldn’t be possible without a collaboration between government groups and the private sector.

“Without a collaboration between us and a number of other federal and private partners and individual land owners, we couldn’t have the impact that we’re going to have with their involvement,” Mary Beth Charles, a worker with the Conservancy, said.

And the project didn’t end with building a few castles.

“Once we’re done putting these castles in, the association is actually going to come back, clean up the shore line, and replant with marsh. So we’re going to get double duty on the habitat for the fish,” Hader said.

She said they will return periodically to the bank to track the restoration progress.

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