Live Spiney Oyster (Spondylus americanus) is shown with mantle exposed.
DOUG THOMPSON | Contributed photo
POINT WASHINGTON— Discarded oyster shells will help rejuvenate a natural shoreline in Eden Gardens State Park.
A Gulf Power-supported Five Star Restoration grant of $23,500 will help restore a 3,600-square-foot section of native marsh habitat to provide educational opportunities to schoolchildren.
The project is also being funded by an $87,000 match from the Northwest Florida State College Foundation Inc., and their partners, including the E.O. Dunn Foundation, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Walton County School District and the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance.
The oyster shells will come from three restaurants: Buster’s Oyster Bar, Stinky’s Fish Camp and the Back Porch.
“This project uses a proven method to restore native habitat, plus it helps educate and inspire our future generations,” said Natalie Smith, a spokeswoman for Gulf Power. “Partnerships like this are crucial in helping restore and protect our precious shorelines.”
Volunteers will form reef bases using bags of oyster shells donated from the restaurants.
The reefs will attract new oysters, which will filter water and help stabilize the reef. Students in Grasses to Classes educational programs will plant native sea grasses and marsh grass.