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Material for oyster restoration project reaches Dauphin Island destination

The goal of the environmental restoration project is to reinvigorate oyster reefs at Cedar Point Beach.


The Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) today announced that limestone for an oyster restoration project in the Gulf Coast has arrived at its Dauphin Island destination, off Cedar Point Beach in Heron Bay, where it is being deployed to create an oyster cultch to support and restore native Alabama oyster populations.

“Conservation of Alabama’s world-class outdoors and wildlife takes a team, and I’m proud of the various partners who have joined together to make this project possible,” said Tim Gothard, AWF executive director. “This project, funded in its entirety by private dollars, will help restore Alabama’s oyster populations for generations to come, and I thank all who played a role in making this happen. It was amazing to see material from the very far north corner of our state travel through our state’s beautiful waterways to provide a major boost to the saltwater resources so many Alabamians love and enjoy.” 

The limestone was donated by Vulcan Materials Co. and was transported from Tuscumbia in northwest Alabama to the Gulf Coast via the Tennessee, Tombigbee, and Mobile rivers by Cooper Marine.

The goal of the environmental restoration project is to reinvigorate oyster reefs at Cedar Point Beach. The Cedar Point Beach Oyster Restoration Project is 77 acres of water bottom located just west of Dauphin Island Parkway in Heron Bay. The site is a historic oyster reef area next to some of the most productive oyster reefs in Alabama waters. 

The project is intended to restore a large oyster reef footprint that can yield sustainable harvests of oysters for human consumption, continued management of the oyster reef for long-term productivity, and improved water quality through the filtering capacity of a larger and robust oyster population. A significant amount of limestone cultch material is needed to produce higher, more resilient oyster densities. 

“The state of Alabama is blessed with tremendous natural resources,” said Scott Bannon, director of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ (DCNR) Marine Resources Division (MRD). “DCNR is responsible for maintaining and developing those resources for current and future generations, but we do not do this alone. We are fortunate to have many partners who use their resources to help fill the gaps. This project would have cost our division nearly a half-million dollars. With limited resources at our disposal, we are thankful for AWF’s leadership in providing funding, securing additional investors, and managing the contracts to make the project happen.”

Vulcan Materials donated 6,500 tons of limestone cultch material; Cooper Marine provided more than $150,000 of in-kind transportation; AWF donated $100,000 for the deployment of the oyster cultch; and the Coastal Land Trust, the Jernigan Foundation, J.L. Bedsole Foundation and PowerSouth all donated equal amounts to match AWF dollar for dollar on cultch deployment. 

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“Environmental stewardship is one of our top priorities, and we are proud to support this important environmental restoration effort for the Alabama Gulf Coast,” said Mitesh Shah, President of Vulcan Materials Company’s Southern and Gulf Coast Division. “Through our partnership with the Alabama Wildlife Federation, Cooper Marine, and others, the limestone from our Pride Quarry in north Alabama has now made its way down our state’s river systems and into this historic oyster reef area. We look forward to seeing the impact that this oyster clutch will have on our state’s native oyster populations.”

The oyster cultch material provides points of attachment for recently settled oysters, or “spat,” for the restoration project.

“It was a privilege to use our resources to support an important project for environmental upkeep on Alabama’s coast,” said Angus Cooper III, president of the Cooper Group. “We thank the various partners who came together to make this possible and are looking forward to seeing the impact it will have on Alabama’s native oyster populations.”

As the limestone material traveled from north Alabama down Alabama’s river systems to the Gulf Coast, AWF tracked its progress and provided updates through its Facebook page. You can visit the page to view the travel of the barges carrying the limestone to its destination at Heron Bay.

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