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SBEP Update: Restoration projects and vinyl seawalls

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The following "Director's Note" is from the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program's Dave Tomasko:

At our Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting today [June 29], we had two main topics to go over. The first one related to the ongoing and planned habitat restoration and stormwater retrofit projects that we plan on implementing with funds allocated to the SBEP via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). As we’ve pointed out before, our intent was to not use those funds to hire staff, or to fund studies (we’ve been an NEP for 30 years – we kind of know most of what we need to do now) but instead to use those BIL funds for “shovel ready” projects. Over the past 2½ years, Jay and our consultants have worked to get us through the design and permitting stages for our first three priority projects: 1) FISH Preserve Phase IV, 2) GT Bray Park, and 3) reviving the artificial reef program. 

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The second topic involved the issue of vinyl seawalls. The video below [see link] was shot as Tom Kane (our intern) and I cruised along a canal in the southern part of our bay. As you can see, there is a distinct difference between the amount of oysters that are attached to concrete seawalls, vs. the vinyl seawall. Tom, myself and Megan visited 32 seawalls, grouped into 16 concrete and 16 vinyl/plastic ones. All 16 concrete seawalls supported oysters – sometimes at fairly substantial amounts. Of the 16 vinyl seawalls, only 6 had any level of oysters, and usually these were so far reduced as to be easy to miss. Based on the statistical tests we did, there is a highly significant difference between the amount of oysters found on concrete vs. vinyl seawalls.