In 2018, we worked with Duke Energy’s Mariculture Center in Crystal River to establish a large salt marsh nursery in one of their culture ponds. We needed the donor marsh because habitat restoration requires access to plant material. Establishing a donor marsh is an alternative to harvesting plants from natural areas, avoiding impacts to wild places. As living shorelines gain popularity, there has been an increasing demand for plant material and the donor marsh at Duke Energy has been there to answer the call!
This donor marsh started with about 4,350 plants of two different species (Spartina alterniflora and S. patens) commonly used in living shorelines. After 18 months of growth and careful tending by Duke staff, the marsh filled in completely. Donations began in 2020 and interest in the marsh has grown to be regional in scope.
So far, plant material from the donor marsh has assisted six different living shoreline projects. Shorelines from Pensacola to Cedar Key are now home to marsh plants from Duke Energy. The marsh donated at least 5,000 multi-stem plugs of marsh plants in 2020. That number will only grow in 2021!
A major impact from the donor marsh has been the ability to help shorelines that were impacted by Hurricane Sally. Many shorelines suffered damage during Hurricane Sally, including a newly installed living shoreline where more almost 70,000 plants were lost in the storm. Thanks in part to the Duke Energy donor marsh, the living shoreline will be rebuilt using donated plants. This will save thousands of dollars in repair costs for the project and contribute to the future resilience of the shoreline.
Accessing the marsh
Do you have a living shoreline project that needs plants? Get in touch to find out how you can access this amazing resource for restoration. Plants are free of charge to projects on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico coast. Interested parties must provide their own labor and organize a harvest event in advance. Comment below or email Savanna Barry to find out details.