The Sebastian Inlet Chapter has become heavily involved in efforts to save the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) – an imperiled estuary of national significance. Applying Ocean Friendly Garden principles 50 years ago would have gone a long way towards reducing the human impact on the IRL. Applying them now is imperative if we’re going to stand any chance of restoration and preservation for the future.
The IRL’s native shorelines have been decimated. These critical areas should act as a filter for agricultural and lawn runoff, as well as provide nursery habitat for marine life. It’s critical that it is as fertilizer-free as possible. Moving the public’s view in this direction requires a lot of education, and they have to have examples to see.
With all of this in mind, we recently partnered with the City of Satellite Beach and the Marine Resources Council to do a demonstration project at Satellite Beach City Hall. Our previous experience with similar native plant shoreline projects has raised our profile in the community and facilitated these partnering opportunities.
The Mayor of Satellite Beach, Frank Catino, is also the dean of local inshore light tackle/fly fishing fishing guides. The IRL is his ‘’office’’ when he’s not doing city government duties. Perhaps more than any other local government figure, he understands how important it is to our local economy that we save the IRL.
The City Hall location provided an opportunity to replace turf grass with native plants, and provide maximum visibility to residents who wish to do their part. It’s an example for them to follow. From the waterline up to a few feet of elevation, various plants are placed in their proper locations. For instance, the red Mangrove actually grows in brackish water. So they, along with Spartina grass, are right along the waterline. Both are important habitat plants, as well as serving shoreline fortification and filter functions. Moving higher, there are many varieties of other native plants which were utilized; Giant Leather ferns, Bastard Indigo, Jamaican Caper, Dune sunflowers, Coreopsis, Florida Coontie, Sand Cord grass and Muhley grass.
Our OFG coordinator, Bill DeLuccia (at left, black hat), got to work with his good friend (and frequent surf buddy) Nick Sanzone on the organization of this effort. Nick runs the MRC’s habitat restoration program, and he and Bill did a great job. The key to making these projects volunteer-friendly is to have some of the prep work done in advance; so that when volunteers show up, the plants are ready to go in and results are easy to see quickly. Division of labor is also important. Kids are great at putting in plants, but shovel work and wheelbarrowing mulch are adult jobs. We’ve learned a lot doing multiple projects.
And it always pays dividends to have a good photographer on hand. We are particularly blessed in this regard – James Kilby of Kilbyphoto LLC is an important part of our chapter (James took all the pictures in this blog post). Documenting the work provides outreach opportunities that are powerful in the community. Spreading the word through images leverages everything!
Our communities are really starting to pay attention to gardening practices and their effects on our waters. Projects like this drive home the point that everyone can play their part by adhering to OFG practices.