An Innovative “Living Shoreline” Reef is in Place at Stratford Point
Workers installed 64 concrete reef balls in the intertidal zone at the Stratford Point coastal habitat restoration area on Monday and Tuesday, May 5 and 6 – a technology never before used in Long Island Sound.
This pilot project is designed to improve wildlife habitat and protect the shoreline from erosion caused by storms like Hurricane Sandy.
The living shoreline works by slowing down and breaking up waves and storm surges that cause erosion, allowing for sediment deposition and for protective tidal marsh plants to take root (plans call for marsh grasses to be planted next week). It allows a natural community to emerge, providing habitat that acts as a fish and blue crab nursery and a hard substrate for shellfish settlement, and enhancing habitat for Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons and other birds.
The reef will help protect the newly restored upland coastal habitats that Connecticut Audubon and Sacred Heart, which is in Fairfield, have undertaken at Stratford Point over the past four years. This project will greatly improve its value as a key bird and fish habitat in the heart of the Housatonic River estuary.
Funding for the project comes, in part, from a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This public-private grant program also pools funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Long Island Sound Funders Collaborative. As part of the grant program, SHU is adding an additional $88,000 through other non-federal fundraising efforts to complement the project. The majority of living shoreline construction is being provided by DuPont, owners of the upland.