Sunset Along The River Shoreline, Old Town Fernandina
Sunset Along The River Shoreline, Old Town Fernandina

An interesting environmental project is underway, the Old Town Fernandina Living Shoreline Project (A.K.A. the “Crab Trap” Project). According to the St. Marys’ Riverkeeper, the objective is “to establish a wave break that will halt or slow erosion of the marsh while simultaneously providing oyster habitat, and to reestablish lost marsh vegetation along the shoreline of Old Town Fernandina.” Modified crab traps will be utilized, part of a FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute project to create oyster reefs.

Old Town Fernandina Crab Trap Project

To accomplish their goal, here’s what the Project will entail:

“A wave break will be constructed of derelict crab traps, adapted to serve as the foundation for an oyster reef… On the landward side of the wave break structures, Spartina alterniflora, the dominant plant in the lower intertidal zone at the site, will be transplanted into bare areas to reestablish vegetation,” according to the St. Marys Riverkeeper’s website.

Aerial View of Old Town Fernandina Area On The River
Aerial View of Old Town Fernandina Area On The River

Preparation At Old Pogy Plant

Locally, volunteers have already begun preparing the crab traps. The Riverkeeper’s Facebook page shared images of volunteers at Fernandina’s Old Pogy Plant on March 24, 2019. They noted that “Volunteers from the Amelia Island Sailing Club lent their hands to attaching oyster shells to crab traps in preparation for deployment of our living shoreline of oyster reefs in Old Town Fernandina as protection from rising seas and severe storm events.”

Data Collection & Monitoring

The Old Town Fernandina Living Shoreline Project is to be monitored for three years to collect data and measure results. Progress updates and a final report will be completed, assessing the overall project’s impact and success.

April 27, 2019 River Clean Up Event

The St. Marys Riverkeeper is seeking new members and volunteers. Sign up to volunteer for a big event, the upcoming St. Marys River Clean Up on April 27, 2019, fill out the online form.

Fernandina Clean Up Sites

Here’s where volunteers are needed locally, on April 27, 2019, around Fernandina Beach, see the form to sign up:

  • Egans Creek
  • Fernandina Boat Ramp
  • Fernandina Marina
  • Fort Clinch
  • Shave Bridge/A1A/State Road 200 — two spots, on the east side of the Intracoastal Waterway and the west side, too.

White Oak’s Earth Day Festival

For your good deed helping out, volunteers will experience a complimentary visit to the wonderful White Oak Conservation property that borders the St. Marys River. Volunteers get free entry to White Oak Conservation’s Earth Day Festival celebrating the 22nd Annual St. Marys River Clean Up. The Festival will be held from 11:30 – 3 pm.

The Florida-Georgia Border

For those unfamiliar with the area, here at the Florida-Georgia border, it’s the St. Marys River that is the dividing line between the states at the east coast. The local area river cities — St. Marys on the Georgia side and Fernandina Beach on the Florida side — are the main population centers along the St. Marys River. The river is a vital natural resource to this region. Just off Fort Clinch on Amelia Island’s northern tip, Cumberland Island, GA forms the northern mouth of the river.

Other Ways To Help Protect The River

The St. Marys Riverkeeper is a non-profit membership organization. Even if you can’t volunteer, there are other ways to help. Memberships, corporate sponsorships and donations are tax deductible. To make a donation or find out more about the St. Marys Riverkeeper and the Crab Trap Project, visit their website, read their blog, and get updates via their newsletter and Facebook page.

Watch Video About St. Marys River

Also take a look at a related article with interesting, educational video showing aerial perspective of the meandering St. Marys River. Learn more about the river and glimpse scenes above Fernandina then flying westerly along the river to the Okefenokee Swamp, its headwaters.

Living Shoreline Partners

Fishing organizations such as the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) have been holding “Ghost Trap Rodeos” around the state to collect derelict crab traps. Multiple other partners are also providing support of the project including Florida SeaGrant, Georgia SeaGrant, the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Ritz-Carlton.