Mordecai Land Trust Receives $20,000 Grant

Oct 03, 2018
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

The Nature Conservancy is providing a $20,000 grant to the Mordecai Land Trust in Beach Haven to expand the size and scope of an existing oyster castle breakwater that helps protect Mordecai Island from erosion. The 45-acre habitat of salt marsh, mud flats and shrubs is located just offshore from the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club.

“Living shorelines are alternatives to bulkheads and other man-made structures,” said the conservancy in a press release. “They stabilize coastal areas using natural materials such as native shellfish reefs, fiber coir logs, stone sills and vegetation. Their benefits are many: protecting communities from erosion, flooding and other challenges; providing important habitat for fish and wildlife; and offering recreation opportunities and aesthetic beauty for people to enjoy.”

Prior to receiving the grant, land trust representatives attended a workshop in April, discussing project ideas and getting feedback from the state Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

 It was nearly 20 years ago when members of the yacht club formed the trust in an attempt to curb erosion that had been eating away at Mordecai Island, located in the bay just west of the docks. According to the land trust, the island protects Beach Haven’s western edge from storms and at the same time serves as a wonderful ecosystem that is a habitat for a variety of species of wildlife that includes migrating birds, shore birds and a number of threatened species.

While there have been dredging projects along with geotube placement and grass plantings for short-term fixes, the trust has been hoping to establish a breakwater project to reduce the wave energy on the island’s west end as a permanent solution.

“That’s the area that takes a pounding during storms,” said Jim Dugan, an engineer and land trust board vice president. “The western shore of Mordecai Island has been eroding at an unsustainable rate due to wave action from winds and the New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway boat traffic.”

Dugan said that when the trust first was formed, the breakwater project was going to involve rock jetty-type structures. But he said the land trust, in conjunction with ReClam the Bay, opted for an oyster castle system. That project began last summer.

“Constructing an on-site prototype with oyster castles offers the greatest opportunity to evaluate the structural geometry of the breakwater to fulfill its wave attenuating and habitat creating possibilities,” he said.

Dugan said each castle is 12 inches by 12 inches by 8 inches, weighs 30 pounds and is made of concrete, crushed shell, limestone and silica.

He said the trust will use the grant money for studying wave impact.

“There is a new technology available,” said Dugan. “It will help us determine the origin of waves, whether they come from wind or watercraft. That knowledge will assist us as we continue to work on our breakwater project.”

— Eric Englund

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