BAY HABITAT RESTORATION
The vision for this project is to restore a visually appealing and environmentally viable estuarine habitat along Palm Bay's Indian River shoreline and a major transportation corridor: Federal Highway US-1.
The mission of the Stone Junior High School project is to improve a natural salt marsh and mangrove shoreline of the community by removal of trash and invasive plants with no aesthetic or ecological value.
The Stone Junior High School Habitat Restoration Project was conceived during a Pepper Buster Workday. Students from the 1994-'95 Biology Honors class participated at the Mayor of Palm Bay's Pepper Buster site. Following that work day; many of the students discussed continued work at that site. It was then that we decided to augment plans by the City of Palm Bay to construct a park at the mouth of Turkey Creek. It was decided that our role would be to not only getting rid of invasive exotic plants and trash, but to restore natural vegetation.
The project hopes to improve natural ecosystem function, provide appropriate habitat for native species and improve water quality. The City of Palm Bay is planning to use the area as a waterfront park in approximately five years- so the work of the students in cleaning, clearing and replanting the site may be quite instrumental in gaining citizen support for such a project.
Partnerships and Cooperators in the project:
- a local university: the Florida Institute of Technology,
- an environmental organization: the Marine Resources Council
- the City of Palm Bay
- a community organization: Indialantic Rotary Club donated mangrove seedlings
- a chemical company: Monsanto (which supplied the chemical herbicide)
- local business: Winn-Dixie Supermarkets and Mash Hoagies
- private contributions
A regional NBC affiliate station interviews the EcoWarriors! Long Version - 90 seconds - 4.9 megs
A smaller part of the interview...Short version - 47 seconds - 2.7 megs
(Both require a QuickTime Video Viewer)
Project activities are to:
- remove trash and debris, recycle plastic, glass and aluminum
- remove exotic Brazilian Pepper trees
- replace exotic plants with native species.
- maintain cleared areas in habitat
- expand the work area on an ongoing quarterly basis each year
Service Project Workdays
- October 22, 1994
- This date, designated as National Make-A-Difference Day, was the day we began our association with the Turkey Creek/Bay Habitat Restoration Project. The environmental club sponsors at our school had heard about the Pepper Buster effort at Margaret Hames Wildlife Park upstream on Turkey Creek in Palm Bay. When Mr. Shupe's classes became involved, it was apparent that we would be overwhelming the original pepper buster site with workers. So along with a local environmentalist, Diane Barile, and the mayor of Palm Bay, Mel Broom; we manned a new site with over 30 students, family members, and teachers. That day 3/10 of a mile of estuarine shoreline was cleared of Brazilian Peppers and trash was removed as well. This translated into 40,000 square feet and eight dump trucks of debris and mulched trees.
- January 14, 1995
- The new year brought us sense of ownership over the Turkey Creek/Indian River bay site... we returned to the area that we had cleared earlier and began to renew the environment by planting 110 red mangrove trees that were donated by the Indialantic Rotary Club. The workday was almost called off on account of high winds and rain. The inclement weather subsided exactly during the work party hours- 9 am to 12 pm!
- March 11, 1995
- A continued effort was made to plant trees and extend the work area to include over a half mile of shoreline. Recycled materials included approximately 12 boxes of glass, three garbage bags of aluminum, and several more mounds of mulch.
- May 20, 1995
- This day seemed more like Hollywood than the work that we were accustomed to. We were visited by several tv camera teams as well as the newspaper as word of our efforts began to get out. Everyone was asked to pose doing a certain task in a certain area, with a certain amount of natural and occasionally reflected light to achieve a certain video atmosphere... Some of this footage was used during the Anheuser-Busch Promise and A Pledge Environmental Awards Ceremony that were broadcasted nationally from Busch Gardens in Tampa on CBS. One of the groups that we were affiliated with received a first place award in their category!
- October 28, 1995
- We returned to our site after a busy summer- dismayed to find out that hurricane erosion had restructured much of the shoreline- washing out many of our mangrove seedlings. However, some trees were doing great! Another act of nature that appeared to have greatly changed the ecology of the shoreline was the tremendous influx of freshwater and eroded sediments. The end of the hurricane season (August, September and early October) had brought ten times the normal precipitation. This resulted in the thick growth of cattails along an area that is normally a saltwater estuarine habitat. We expect that this will change as the dry winter season brings the salinity of the bay back up...
- November 11, 1995
- Fifteen students joined the Scrub Jay Preservation Society's efforts to clear Brazilian Peppers from a tract of barrier island wilderness that was known to have many scrub jay inhabitants.
- December 9, 1995
- Returning to our Turkey Creek Bay Habitat site with only a few students this time we decimated several more large stands of Brazilian Peppers and documented some of the growth of the previous year's planted mangroves. We were pleased to find that the surviving Red Mangroves had doubled their size while some of the White Mangroves that we had planted were already over three feet in height!
Additional service project sessions have occurred on:
- February 24, 1996
- April 20, 1996
But no summary has been written yet.