By Rebecca Burton
Photos provided by Hernando County, Brittany Hall-Scharf and Keith Kolasa
In an effort to improve water quality and reduce erosion along the shoreline of Hernando County, a Florida Sea Grant team is working with University of Florida faculty and Hernando County employees to restore oyster reefs and marsh grasses in a Bay that is starved for fish habitat.
The project is part of a $29K grant awarded to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Coastal Partnership Initiative.
“We watched the oysters grow over the next few months while also collecting water quality data,” Hall-Scharf said. “From the results of this study, we felt that we could proceed with the oyster reef enhancement project.”
In this hands-on curriculum, students learn about the importance of marsh grasses to our coastal ecosystems while helping grow them for future restoration activities.
Hall-Scharf is helping build two nurseries at the middle school that will eventually produce an annual crop of smooth cordgrass for coastal marsh restoration adjacent to the new oyster reef site.