Interview with Living Shoreline Homeowners

Rachel Gwin had the pleasure of interviewing two of our esteemed living shoreline homeowners, Dr. Maurice “Scott” and Mrs. Evelyn Mettee. Dr. Mettee worked with the threatened Gulf sturgeon and researched the endangered Okaloosa Darter in Northwest Florida. He also published the Fishes of Alabama and the Mobile River Basin. As heroes of CBA, the Mettees have been active in supporting our mission for swimmable, fishable waterways. Their living shoreline has brought many marine visitors and much joy to their household.


As a Fisheries Biologist, what is your favorite fish in the Choctawhatchee Watershed?

Our two favorite fish species in Choctawhatchee Bay are the Gulf sturgeon and the Alabama shad. Both are anadromous species because they spend most of their lives in saltwater and migrate upstream into the Alabama section of the Choctawhatchee River to spawn. Adults return to the Gulf after the spawning season ends.

Dr. Mettee

What made you decide to create a living shoreline on your property? What is your favorite thing about your living shoreline?

Our family has owned property on Choctawhatchee Bay for 60 years so we’ve had plenty of time to observe the annual cumulative effects of wind, tides, and boat traffic on our beach. Generally speaking, prevailing NW winds increased our beach size from December through March. Most of these gains were usually eroded away by September and October by prevailing SW summer winds and increased boat wakes. Waves were breaking against the base of our sea wall by December.

Something had to be done to protect our beach. The CBA had the perfect solution. In March 2017, a small enthusiastic group of CBA staff and volunteers built four small reefs in shallow water parallel to our beach. Wonderful things began to happen shortly thereafter. Summer beach erosion moderated. Reef rocks were covered by a generous layer of algae, small corals and grasses. Thousands of small Choctawhatchee Bay fish, shrimp and crab species began using the reefs as feeding, nursery and hiding habitats. The still functioning reefs are a magnet for family members who want to observe Choctawhatchee Bay sea life in our own back yard. 

Dr. Mettee

What advice would you give people about maintaining a healthy watershed?

What can individual bay-front landowners do to protect and enhance the natural resources of Choctawhatchee Bay? We can tell you from personal experience. Call the CBA. Ask them to investigate the possibility of building a living shoreline on your beach. For everyone else, please give the CBA your financial support so it can continue this important habitat work.

Dr. Mettee

Shoreline Grasses Growing at Post’l Point Site

In the summer of 2018, CBA worked with Eglin Air Force Base, Corvias, and over 100 volunteers to create a reef breakwater and living shoreline to reduce erosion along Post’l Point. Nearly a year later, native marsh grasses and other vegetation are beginning to stabilize the land behind the breakwaters.

The photo below was taken in January 2019, during a very low winter tide.  During higher tides, the limestone rocks reduce the wave energy hitting the shoreline, changing the aquatic environment marsh grasses can use to grow.

 

The second photo was taken just last week. As you can see, the native smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) has not only been able to take root, but is now growing above the waterline. In addition to providing critical habitat, the grass roots will stabilize sediment, which further reduces erosion and can actually build out the shoreline itself.

Learn more about CBA’s living shorelines program – and how you can help – by clicking here.

Destin Forward Works with CBA to Build Living Shoreline and Refurbish Research Vessels

The 2018-2019 Destin Forward class has teamed up with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) to build a living shoreline in Ross Marler Park and restore CBA’s research vessels for future monitoring and living shoreline initiatives.

The Destin Forward leadership class, a program of the Destin Chamber of Commerce, discovers the inner workings of Destin through monthly presentations and field trips. Each class completes a project to give back to the Destin community. This year, Destin Forward members chose the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance because living shoreline and monitoring projects have a direct impact on citizens of and visitors to Destin.

“We challenge the class each year to find a need in our community and a solution to that need, and it should have a long-lasting impact on the Destin community. There is no question that maintaining top-level water quality is a major need for us, so this project fits perfectly with the tourism industry and for quality of life for our residents,” explains Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP, Destin Chamber President & CEO. “It’s good to see that they’ve learned from their classes. They should be congratulated on their hard work, not just the fundraising, but the physical labor as well.”

After raising funds during the annual Pins and Pancakes event at Uncle Buck’s in the Destin Commons, Destin Forward members volunteered with CBA for two days in March to build a new reef breakwater in Ross Marler Park, bag recycled oyster shell for a future living shoreline, and refurbish and restore CBA’s 19-foot Mako research vessel. Because of the class members’ efforts, the reef breakwater will provide habitat and reduce erosion along the Choctawhatchee Bay, while CBA’s Mako will continue to bring staff and volunteers across the watershed to conduct critical monitoring and restoration initiatives.

“Nearly all CBA staff go through the Destin Forward program,” explains Alison McDowell, Director of CBA, “So we are thrilled that this year’s class chose to invest in our waterways through their unique service project. They worked hard!”

Designed to provide a hands-on learning experience into the issues facing the Destin community on a day-to-day basis, Destin Forward accepts up to 25 business professionals for each 9-month class. Participants learn from experts in many different fields, including the environment, boat safety, tourism promotion, and government affairs. Class begins in August with a welcome reception and ends in May with a graduation.