The Restoration

In November 2013, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation approved a Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund award that included $1.8M to protect existing wetlands and create additional wetlands on the erosion-impacted northern tip of Mon Louis Island as part of the Fowl River Watershed Restoration project. The proposal assumed using material dredged from the mouth of Fowl River to complete the project. However, sediment analysis revealed this source to be of insufficient quality to complete the project as designed. Through the alternatives analysis, a preferred sediment source offshore was identified and the project reconfigured accordingly to optimize the conservation benefits and project lifespan while controlling costs. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not view this strategy favorably and indicated that obtaining permits to borrow from the identified site would be unlikely.


In late 2014, further consideration of upland beneficial use dredge material sources forced reconsideration of the strategy. Material from the Fowl River Dredged Material Management Area (DMMA) was also determined to be unsuitable to due low sand/high silt content. Material from the AL State Port Authority Theodore DMMA was of suitable quality and volume, but the expense of transport and delivery by truck or barge with mechanical offloading (estimated at $30 to $45 per cubic yard) was deemed prohibitively expensive. Without a nearshore source of material, reducing the scope of wetlands creation associated with shoreline stabilization measures became a realistic, if disappointing, alternative.

In early 2015, USACE Operations staff preliminarily determined that suitable material existed in the permitted, near shore, USACE Fowl River Open Water Disposal Site (FROWDA) in close proximity to the project. Thompson Engineering analysis confirmed that the material was of sufficient quality and volume for use. Further, Sen. Bill Hightower identified a potential funding source, an Alabama Deepwater Horizon Incident Grant of $800,000 that was subsequently secured to finance needed maintenance dredging of the shallow Fowl River Navigation Channel. A workable strategy was developed. It involved hydraulically dredging ~50K cubic yards of material from the nearshore USACE disposal site for placement behind a rock breakwater installed at the 1996 shoreline “footprint” to create an additional four acres of salt marsh fisheries habitat. When placement was complete, and without further expense of demobilization or mobilization, the dredge equipment was then used to undertake maintenance dredging to approximately eight-foot depth of the Fowl River Navigation Channel. Dredged material was beneficially used to replace material borrowed from the disposal area and avoid negative environmental impacts. This strategy offered several advantages:

  • Only one dredge mobilization was necessary to accomplish both marsh creation fill and channel maintenance dredging, representing significant cost savings for accomplishing both tasks.
  • Environmental regulatory clearances already existed for the FROWDA.
  • Potential impacts related to an open water borrow area hole (water quality/hypoxia and wave climate) were avoided by replenishment with channel sediments.
  • Much needed navigation channel maintenance was coordinated with hazard mitigation and habitat creation efforts.

In summary, ALDOT Class 4 riprap was staged on the northern side of the mouth of East Fowl River. A temporary access channel 50 feet in width was constructed on the nearshore side of the breakwater footprint to facilitate delivery by barge and placement of the rock material to create a breakwater with a 2:1 slope and five-foot crest at NAVD88 elevation of 4.1’. Material side cast on the nearshore side of the temporary access channel was replaced as the breakwater, tied in to existing infrastructure along the shore of the Montgomery property directly to the south, was constructed from south to north. Sediments hydraulically dredged from the Fowl River Open Water Disposal Area were pumped behind the constructed breakwater and allowed to settle and compact before a tidal creek was constructed and native marsh vegetation planted to create an additional four acres of wetland/tidal salt marsh. The dredge was then used to perform navigation channel maintenance and dredged material was pumped back into the FROWDA borrow pit to replace material used for marsh creation. Earthwork and planting were completed in spring 2017.

Reports


2012-13 Habitat Creation and Shoreline Stabilization on Mon Louis Island
Proposed Mon Louis Island Habitat Creation/Shoreline Stabilization Project Abstract/Description
Mon Louis Island Modified Project Imagery

Maps
Fowl River Watershed Map
North End Labeled Map
Complete MLI Labeled Map

Community Meetings
May 11, 2016:
Mon Louis Island Community Meeting Presentation

April 12, 2012:
Mon Louis Island Project Description Presentation - South Coast Engineers(4/12/12)
Mon Louis Island Engineering RFP

May 26, 2011:
Understanding Shoreline Property Rights – Nicki Pace, MS-AL Sea Grant Legal Program
Living Shorelines Projects: Have They Worked in Maryland? by Dr. Bhaskaran Subramanian, MD Department of Natural Resources
Living Shorelines and Habitat Restoration by Kevin Smith, MD Department of Natural Resources

February 17, 2011:
Coastal Processes of Mon Louis Island – Dr. Bret Webb, USA Civil Engineering Dept.

July 29, 2010:
July 29, 2010, Community Meeting Presentation