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MacDill acts to shore up its eroding shoreline

The shoreline along MacDill's eastern coast, particularly the southeastern portion near the south golf course, is rapidly washing away. It has been estimated the base is losing as much as one horizontal foot of shoreline annually; that's 3,800 square feet of land each year. The erosion is clearly evident with even a quick walk along the shoreline.

The roots of large live oaks are exposed and dying and palm trees are washing away. Even the mangroves, well known for stabilizing coastal zones, are losing the battle to the wind and waves. The exact reasons for the accelerated beach erosion are unknown, but many suspect the steady increase in the number and size of ships that pass through the bay each year may be a significant cause.

The MacDill Conservation Program has developed a project to stop the erosion. MacDill and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have partnered to implement Phase I of multiphase, multiyear shoreline stabilization project. Tampa Bay Watch, a local nonprofit company dedicated to the stewardship of the bay, has been contracted to design and support the innovative stabilization project.

Phase I of the project will construct an 800-linear foot "reef" in the shallow water parallel to the shoreline. The reef will reduce wave energy before it hits the beach, thereby reducing erosion. If conditions are favorable, shoreline accretion (gain) may even occur.

The reef will be primarily constructed of marine-friendly concrete oyster domes. An oyster dome is a hollow half-sphere roughly two feet in diameter and 18 inches tall with large holes throughout. These holes allow water to pass through, but also dissipate wave energy.

Each oyster dome weighs about 50 pounds. Approximately 910 oyster domes will be placed in the surf to create the 800-foot reef for Phase I. Once in place, it is anticipated oysters and mussels will quickly colonize on the oyster domes. Civilian and military volunteers will carry the oyster domes from trailers on the shoreline out into the shallow surf where they will be placed on the sandy bottom and secured. The work effort is anticipated to take about four days to complete with approximately 20 volunteers each day.

The MacDill AFB Conservation Program is seeking volunteers to support this rather large work effort. The work is tentatively scheduled for mid-March, once the appropriate environmental permits have been secured. This project will be the largest of its kind to be completed in the Tampa Bay area. To volunteer your time and muscle to support this innovative project, contact Jason Kirkpatrick at 828-0459.




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