Vertical structure and coastal ecosystems

Aerial view of Myrtle and Ship Shoal Islands.I do a bit more thinking about the Christian’s role in stewardship during the Christmas and summer breaks, one of the blessings of being a schoolteacher. I really like what the Nature Conservancy and a few other more place-based non-profits are doing on the southeast coast. I tend to reject the term mid-Atlantic. I like the historical and cultural context of southeast. Mid-Atlantic prioritizes geography over culture.

The Nature Conservancy has been quietly working on the Eastern Shore (the southern portion of the Delmarva Peninsula, that strip of land between the Atlantic and the Chesapeake Bay, for 50 years. My Dad was born there, in Nassawadox, Virginia, amongst the Spartina prairie.  I love the salt marsh ecosystem more than almost any other assemblage the Lord has built and organized. The coast is a remarkable place of exchange, continent and sea, wind and precipitation, salt and fresh. The work of shoring up here is being done in a way that shoreline and species benefit and as conditions continue to change, the vertical structure can remain and function as species composition fluctuates.

Here is a snippet from their latest newsletter,

“If you catch the timing of the tides right, you can look up from your lunch at the Island House and see TNC’s Marine Habitat Restoration Team – Bo Lusk, Brittany Collins, and a growing crew of dedicated local volunteers – working to install oyster substrate (the hard stuff oysters grow on) along the marsh island’s shorelines. Volunteers boat out to stack oyster castle blocks to create low protective walls of habitat along the marsh and deploy a lightweight, biodegradable substrate designed to both provide a home for oysters and to strengthen the marsh by holding sediment in place. Volunteers also actually create the lightweight Oyster Catcher substrate at Brownsville Preserve.

Local resources, focusing on increasing vertical structure (like a prairie dog colony or a coral reef), this is good restoration ecology work here. 

Volgenau Virginia Coast Reserve
Winter 2022-2023 Newsletter

More about this system of conserved private lands along Virginia’s coast and the work of TNC there. 

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