NCBS Intern Report: Investigating Strategies, Benefits and Stakeholder Preference of “Living Shorelines”
NCBS Intern Report written by Vita Repina, with Host Mark Clark
Reviving the Shoreline
Being able to tell my friends and family that I work on the beach was one of my favorite things when I was asked about what I would be doing this summer. I collaborated with Dr. Mark Clark and NCBS on the Joe Raines Beach living shoreline restoration project on the island of Cedar Key. Four years ago, Joe Raines Beach was severely prone to sand erosion, putting the environment of the shoreline, as well as property owners at considerable risk. Our team worked on measuring elevations, vegetation coverage, and wildlife coverage, as well as taking soil samples and photos along about 20 different transect points along the shore. All these values correlate to the progressive restoration of the beach throughout the years. Now, because of the implementation of cordgrasses as well as sand and oyster bags, which have accumulated an average 4 meters of sediment, the beach is self-sustaining and will continue to thrive. The beach is public and welcomes visitors and wildlife any day.
Getting to Know the Locals
The second part of my internship involved speaking with visitors and local residents of Cedar Key by conducting surveys aimed at assessing their opinion on the usability, accessibility, aesthetics, protection, and environmental aspects of another potential location of a living shoreline: G-Street. This 40-question survey gave us the ability to understand why the general public came to this shoreline, what they like and dislike about the shoreline, and whether they think this is an example of a living shoreline. A living shoreline, by definition, is a protected, self-maintaining coastal edge that consists of natural materials such as sea grass, sand or rock sediment, and organic matter that provides a habitat for various wildlife. More than 50 valid surveys were collected which can be later be used to present and support the implementation of a living shoreline on G-Street. I will be continuing to conduct surveys into the fall semester.
This has been an enriching and rewarding experience that has not only enlightened but inspired me to continue with my environmental career. One of the main aspects that benefited me was the various interactions I had with the general public. Even though most people were curious to learn more about our work, some individuals had strong opinions with no room for debate. As an environmental management major, it is essential for me to learn how to effectively inform and convince people that the environmental solution is the best solution. I have learned more than I thought I would about beach restoration and public influence and inquisition through this extraordinary internship opportunity, and I am very grateful to my passionate mentors and the NCBS organization.