By Eliska Morgan, Coastal Restoration Coordinator, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resoruces
As reported in a previous issue of Coastal Connection, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Mobile District (USACE), the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, and the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP) to develop a constituent-informed, science-based coastal comprehensive plan to strengthen the economic, environmental, and social resilience of coastal Alabama for current and future generations.
By maximizing the use of resources in support of this comprehensive planning effort, the ACCP will create a roadmap for local, state and federal officials as they seek to:
- reduce the susceptibility of residential, commercial and public infrastructure to storm damages, climate change, and sea level rise;
- improve habitats for freshwater, coastal, and marine resources to support commercial and recreational harvest;
- assist in the restoration of natural and human-made features damaged by erosion or unwise land use or development decisions;
- promote long-term erosion reduction during future natural hazards; and
- promote diversification of economies within the two coastal counties as a means of economic resilience from future hazards.
As part of the initial development of the ACCP, nineteen visioning sessions were conducted last year – seventeen with targeted focus groups and two with a broader public audience. Using input received in the visioning sessions, a survey is being developed by the MBNEP to further identify and classify priority issues. When given the opportunity, we hope you will take the time to participate in the MBNEP survey this summer, as this process will generate valuable information for the USACE to develop vulnerability and adaptability assessments.
It is not too late to share your coastal vision on the ACCP website at accp.usace.army.mil. You may also go here to get the latest update on the ACCP as well as to view comments received thus far on an interactive map.
The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program has released its Year 4 Work Plan. Major Goals and Focus: In October 2013, MBNEP began implementation of a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan for 2013-2018. Over the course of the first year, each of the committees of the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program adopted a fiveyear strategy to protect/improve management of: Access to the water and open spaces; Beaches and Shorelines; Fish; Heritage and Culture; Environmental Health/Resiliency; Water Quality. These committees continue their commitment toward the successful implentation of this plan. You can review the Year 4 Work Plan by clicking here.
Monday, June 6, 2016
Fowl River Restoration & Dredging Project Set for Later This Month
The restoration of the erosion-impacted and storm-vulnerable northern tip of Mon Louis Island is set to get underway following a June 8 pre-construction meeting. What was proposed and funded through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund in late 2013 as an emergency project and a race to complete before a catastrophic tropical weather event has finally been permitted and contracted. Orion Marine Construction has been hired to implement this project, designed by Thompson Engineering with assistance from the Mobile Bay NEP and the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, Operations Division. The project will include the construction of a continuous rock breakwater along the footprint of the historic 1997 shoreline, subsequent hydraulic dredging to borrow material from the Fowl River Open Water Disposal Area (FROWDA) to create four acres of salt marsh behind the breakwater, and maintenance dredging of the shallow and neglected Fowl River navigation channel to replace the borrowed material.
Project implementation was delayed by design challenges and permitting. The original intention was to borrow material directly from the navigation channel, but its sediments were silty and of insufficient quality for marsh creation. After considering upland and upstream sources of suitable material, core samples obtained from the FROWDA in early 2015 were revealed to be sandy enough for marsh creation. State Senator Bill Hightower secured State Deepwater Horizon Impact Funds to undertake maintenance dredging to restore channel navigability and provide a source of material to replace what was borrowed and restore water quality conditions along the Bay bottom. Combining the two dredging efforts provides cost efficiencies, improved access for recreational boaters, and ensures no negative impacts to water quality on the bottom.
A Corps permit was finally issued in March, 2016, allowing the project to go to forward. Orion’s bid was low enough to include maintenance dredging to an 11-foot depth, three feet deeper than standard Corps protocols. This will ensure a longer period of navigability through this inlet during challenging economic times when maintenance dredging cannot be expected. After Orion completes the described scope of work before the end of 2016, the created wetland area will be left to consolidate and settle for six months before it’s graded and planted. The project will double the area currently providing nursery and refuge habitat for fish, shellfish, and wildlife.
Please take a survey to help The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program, develop a Habitat Restoration Plan and Watershed Comparison Tool to help prioritize conservation and restoration activities across our coastal watersheds. It is a short survey that allows you to rate the importance of different data layers from your perspective. Help us by taking the time to complete the survey. You can provide your name or remain anonymous. We look forward to your input. Please use the link below to take the survey.
By Caitlin Wessel, PhD Student, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, University of South Alabama
Every summer millions of visitors from across the USA flock to the white sand beaches of coastal Alabama, ready to enjoy a little rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, unless you are visiting a beach that gets cleaned every morning, more often than not you will also see litter. Human-made litter can be found throughout the world’s oceans and seas, even in remote areas far from human contact, and is commonly referred to as marine debris. What you may or may not notice in the sand are tiny, colorful pieces of plastic, called microplastics, which have washed ashore with the tide. In the northern Gulf of Mexico, microplastics (plastic particles smaller than 5mm) result mainly from the breakdown, by sunlight and waves, of larger plastic trash floating in the oceans but can also come from products containing microbeads, like toothpaste and face wash. Scientists from the University of Georgia estimated that 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic trash made its way into the ocean in just one year (2010), and current estimates indicate that 92% of the plastic floating in the world’s oceans are microplastics.
Microplastics have become a prominent pollution issue, not only in Alabama, but also throughout the world. They are small enough to be easily ingested by aquatic animals, particularly in marine and coastal environments where they float on the ocean surface. Microplastics floating in the water column can be accidentally ingested by filter-feeders and then work their way up the food chain. Our plastic can affect everything from filter-feeding oysters and mussels to shorebirds, crabs, fish, sea turtles and even dolphins and whales!
Plastics also contain concentrated toxins from their manufacturing and also from absorbing toxins found in the water column. These toxins can then be released from the plastics as they work their way through the digestive tract and end up in organ and muscle tissue. So do you need to worry about microplastics in your food? Maybe, but so far research has shown ingested microplastics accumulate mainly in the guts of organisms, although some pieces are small enough to enter the blood stream. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted about how much plastic we may be ingesting from our food and there is no information on how microplastics could be affecting humans.
Researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the University of South Alabama are currently working on several projects with the Center for Environmental Resiliency and NOAA to determine how marine debris, big and small, is affecting Alabama and the northern Gulf of Mexico. Our data show that the amount of marine debris accumulating on beaches DOUBLES between April and May. We aren’t sure yet what is responsible, but it is likely related to the increase in tourism and fishing during that time of year. Daily monitoring of shoreline trash on Dauphin Island suggests that beach supplies (chairs, tents, sand toys, etc.) left out overnight by beachgoers frequently end up washed out to sea by storms and high tide. Once exposed to constant sunlight and wave action these large plastic items quickly begin to break down into smaller pieces and eventually become microplastics. So far everywhere we have looked for microplastics in Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi we have found them. All of us are responsible for the problem of marine debris, and it will take all of us to be the solution.
So what can you do?
- For starters recycle, but that in itself is not a solution to the problem since only about 5% of plastic is recoverable to make new products.
- We need to decrease the usage of single-use plastic items like grocery or sandwich bags and start using reusable bags and containers.
- Stop buying products that contain plastic microbeads. Read the label and look for words like microbeads, polyethylene, or polypropylene.
- Say NO to printed receipts. Over 250 million gallons of oil, 10 million trees and 1 billion gallons of water are consumed each year just for receipts printed in the USA, generating 1.5 billion pounds of waste.
- Use outdoor trash bins with lids- 19 percent of litter results from trash blowing out of waste bins or the backs of pickup trucks.
- Buy a reusable mug or container for coffee and other drinks. Many places will even give you a discount for bringing your own cup.
- Drink filtered or tap water out of reusable containers instead of buying bottled water. Beverage bottles are the fourth most common litter item found in Alabama.
- All of us are responsible for the problem of marine debris, and it will take all of us to be the solution.
BP's pledge to "make things right" in the Gulf will fall way short under its legal settlment, experts say...click to read more
DOCUMENT 001113 - ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS:
NOTICE TO CONTRACTORS:
Sealed proposals will be received by Dauphin Island Sea Lab / Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), Attention Roberta Swann, 118 North Royal St. Suite 601, Mobile, AL 36602 on April 21, 2016, until 2:00 PM (CDT), for:
Restoration of the Northern End of Mon Louis Island
Fowl River, Mobile County, Alabama
at which time and place they will be publicly opened and read. A cashier’s check or bid bond payable to Dauphin Island Sea Lab / Mobile Bay National Estuary Program in an amount not less than five (5) percent of the amount of the bid, but in no event more than $10,000, must accompany the bidder’s proposal. Performance and Payment Bonds and evidence of insurance required in the bid documents will be required at the signing of the Contract.
The work includes the construction of a 1,540 linear foot continuous riprap dike breakwater; filling of approximately 4 acres behind the breakwater for marsh creation (utilizing hydraulic dredging from a nearby open water borrow source); and maintenance dredging of the Federal Fowl River navigation channel using hydraulic dredging with disposal in the federally-approved open water disposal area.
Drawings and specifications may be examined at Owner’s offices as listed above. Plans are not expected to be available until approximately March 25, 2016.
Bid Documents may be obtained from the Engineer upon deposit of $200.00 per set, which will be refunded in full on the first two sets issued to each general contract bidder submitting a bona fide bid, upon return of documents in good condition within ten days of bid date. Other sets for general contractors, and sets for subcontractors and dealers, may be obtained with the same deposit, which will be refunded as above, less cost of printing, reproduction, handling, and distribution. Bid Documents will be available by contacting Engineer’s Office: Dana Glass, Thompson Engineering, 2970 Cottage Hill Road, Ste. 190, Mobile, AL 36606 (251-666-2443). Requests for the IFB Project Manual shall include a check made payable to “Thompson Engineering” along with mailing address, street address, telephone/fax number, and contact (including e-mail address). Electronic PDF sets of Bid Documents will be available free of charge and can be obtained from the Engineer by emailing: email@example.com – and a download link will be provided.
A Mandatory Pre-Bid Conference will be conducted on April 7, 2016 at 10:00 AM (CDT) at the St. Rose of Lima Parish Hall, 2951 Durette Avenue, Coden, AL 36523. Bidders not in attendance at the Pre-Bid Meeting will not be allowed to submit a bid for construction of the project.
Bids must be submitted on proposal forms furnished by the Engineer or copies thereof. All bidders bidding in amounts exceeding that established by the State Licensing Board for General Contractors must be licensed under the provisions of Title 34, Chapter 8, Code of Alabama, 1975, and must show evidence of license before bidding or bid will not be received or considered by the Engineer; the bidder shall show such evidence by clearly displaying his or her current license number on the outside of the sealed envelope in which the proposal is delivered. The Owner reserves the right to reject any or all proposals and to waive technical errors if, in the Owner’s judgment, the best interests of the Owner will thereby be promoted.
END OF DOCUMENT 001113
Local Organizations Release Final Plan to Improve and Protect Fowl River Watershed
The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program (MBNEP), in partnership with Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood, Inc. (GMC), has completed and released the Fowl River Watershed Management Plan. Visit the Fowl River Watershed page on the MBNEP website (www.mobilebaynep.com) to view and download the plan and appendices.
In 2014, the MBNEP contracted with GMC to prepare a comprehensive Watershed Management Plan (WMP) for the Fowl River Watershed. The purpose of the plan is to guide watershed resource managers, policy makers, community organizations and citizens to protect the chemical, biological, and cultural integrity of the Fowl River Watershed. Specific goals are to protect and preserve the waters and habitats that support healthy populations of fish, shellfish, and wildlife and provide for recreation in and on the waters of this estuary of Mobile Bay.
Completion of a comprehensive watershed management plan involves collaborative efforts from numerous sources. A Steering Committee comprising diverse stakeholders was created to guide the planning process. The Committee, working with MBNEP, then established working groups coalitions of federal, state, and local agencies; county and local governments; business groups and commercial interests, property owners and developers; and civic and environmental groups.
Although Fowl River is overall a healthy watershed, the working groups identified nutrient loading, excessive stormwater runoff, and habitat loss as critical issues, as well as stormwater management and flood protection. Improved management of new urban development and retrofits of existing developments using stormwater best management practices are recommended; ways to combat habitat loss are also a part of the plan.
Residents of the Fowl River Watershed and other local stakeholders were also engaged in a public outreach and education effort. They identified the following priority issues: habitat management, habitat protection, litter, erosion and sedimentation, ordinances, sustainable development, citizen participation and access, shorelines, stormwater management, habitat acquisition, islands, chemical management, signage, enforcement, boat wakes, and recreation. A working group developed management measures and goals to tackle these priorities in a systematic way.
Since 2010, the MBNEP has expanded its work promoting wise stewardship of the waters, species and resources of the watersheds within the Mobile Bay drainage basin. The Fowl River Watershed is the fourth watershed within the larger Mobile Bay watershed system to be evaluated in the past five years. Preparation of the Fowl River Watershed Management Plan was made possible by collaborative funding provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through MBNEP.