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Volunteers needed to help install reef to save base mangroves

by Jason Kirkpatrick
6th Civil Engineer Squadron

Mangroves are one of Mother Nature's natural shoreline protectors. These highly beneficial trees enjoy life in the transitional zone between land and sea along coastlines in the south. Their unique root structure helps bind sediments, reduce erosion, and stabilize shoreline zones. The mangrove's root system literally teems with life as it provides valuable habitat for marine organisms including oysters, mussels, crabs, young fish and countless other species.

Waves generated by wind and ship traffic relentlessly pound MacDill's shoreline resulting in the erosion and mobilization of beach sediments. An unusually active hurricane season in 2004 exacerbated shoreline erosion, particularly on MacDill's southeastern shore, and has imperiled a stand of black mangroves. The mangroves will be undermined and killed unless actions are taken to protect the trees.

The MacDill AFB Conservation Program in conjunction with Tampa Bay Watch has developed a project to stop the erosion around the mangroves and begin to stabilize the shoreline on the southeast corner of the base. Community volunteers will be used to install a wave-reduction buffer constructed from mesh bags filled with fossilized oyster shell. The constructed oyster shell buffer will stop the continual pounding by waves and allow sediment to again accumulate around the mangroves root system.

Civilian and military volunteers are needed to assist with the project. Volunteers will help build and carry oyster shell bags from the shore out into the shallow water where they will be secured on the sandy bay bottom. Four half-day events are planned for March 21 through 24. We hope to get 20-30 volunteers per day. If you are interested in volunteering your time and muscle to support this environmental conservation project, please contact Jason Kirkpatrick at 828-0459. Help save MacDill's remaining mangroves by assisting with the project.




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