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Building Coastal Resiliency

youth carry oyster blocks
Youth from Groundworks Jax carry POSH modules to the shore.

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Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funds are being used to restore oyster reefs at three parks in the Southeast. With a total of $788,000.00 being divided among Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve, Fort Matanzas National Monument, and Cumberland Island National Seashore funds are being used to protect priceless National Park Service sites. This project will protect and restore oyster beds restoring habitat for multiple priority species, improving recreational opportunities, and ecosystem resiliency.


The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, is a keystone species within the preserve and also serves as an ecosystem engineer due to its importance in reef building that serves as shoreline protection. Globally, oyster reefs have declined in extent by 85% in the U.S. Oyster extent has decreased by as much as 64%, and biomass has dropped by 88% These global declines are due to a combination of unsustainable harvest practices, pollution, sedimentation, disease and competition from non-native species.

This project will restore >100M of shoreline at each of the 3 parks. Pervious Oyster Shell Habitat (POSH) modules created from oysters recycled from restaurants will be deployed in the intertidal zone serving as the base of new oyster beds that will combat erosive wake action, collect sediment stabilizing these areas, and restore the habitat of three Species of Greatest Conservation Need: Scalloped hammerheads, Sandbar sharks, and American oystercatcher. Parks are working with local universities and community partners on the constuction, installation and monitoring of these POSH modules.

Students from Title 1 schools will assist in the construction and deployment of these modules, gaining knowledge and experiance in a STEM field. This project will connect them with nature, provide an amazing learning experiance, and empower them in the fight against climate change.

These modules have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than other “standard” shoreline stabilization measures because they use 25% of the cement associated with a similarly-sized Reef Ball. Recycling shells from local resturants diverts them from landfills and uses what some see as trash, in a sustainable way.

In areas that have experienced vegetation and sediment loss due to wake action and rising sea levels, these modules will provide an anchor for new oyster bed growth that will decrease erosion, improve water quality, and increase the ecological functions of salt marsh at these sites. Establishing healthy oyster beds will allow the salt marsh in these areas to keep pace with rising sea levels through the accretion of sediment.

a marshy riverside with oyster beds
Oyster beds and marsh grasses accumulate sediment, absorb boat wake energy, and protect shorelines.

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people stand on beach edge of river
Installing POSH modules along the Fort George River.

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Project Updates

  • Parks are working with university partners currently on similar projects in Georgia and Florida under cooperative agreements.

  • Local restaurants are providing oyster shell and it is currently being collected and quarantined in a secure location by our National Estuarine Research Reserve partners.

  • This project recently completed merit review of the Master Cooperative Agreement with the University of North Florida to allow us to obligate these funds.

Cumberland Island National Seashore, Fort Matanzas National Monument, Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve

Last updated: July 17, 2024