MASGC Project Impacts

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant serves as leader for Alabama Working Waterfront Initiative

Relevance:

In Alabama’s coastal zone, real estate values are escalating and competition for land use is increasing. As tourism development and population growth drive property values higher, locally owned working waterfront businesses are disappearing. Investments in alternative land uses after natural and human-caused disasters also have caused conversion of traditional waterfront uses.

Response:

The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium supported and led the Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition as it elected officers, created a board of directors, adopted by-laws and used information from Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant’s Legal Program to file articles of incorporation with the state of Alabama. After years as an ad hoc committee, the stakeholder group was able to operate as an independent entity. Coalition members from a wide range of water-related economic sectors were able to speak with one voice in larger political and economic-development forums.

To improve its visibility, the coalition developed and implemented a Sea Grant-funded marketing plan. Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant also successfully competed for funding from the National Sea Grant Law Center to develop two websites: "Accessing the Alabama Coast" and "Accessing the Mississippi Coast," which contained information on coastal access options.

Results:

Numerous Sea Grant efforts led the development of the Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition and ultimately to the Alabama Legislature recognizing the importance of working waterfronts. The Legislature created the Alabama Waterfront Access Study Committee, which Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant facilitated. The committee studied issues related to working access to Alabama's waterways. Its final report included recommendations regarding planning/zoning, financial incentives, and socio-economic and infrastructure issues.

On the national level, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant was selected by the National Working Waterfronts Network to co-host the 4th National Working Waterfronts & Waterways Symposium. More than 200 participants from 24 states and Canada increased their capacity to address working waterfront issues in their communities.

The Alabama Working Waterfront Coalition’s branding efforts led to broader recognition and outreach opportunities. On social media, the coalition has nearly 400 Twitter followers and more than 200 Facebook followers.

Recap:

The importance of working waterfronts in Alabama is better recognized at a local, state and national levels, and stakeholders are better informed of working waterfront issues. (2017)

The Oyster Trail public art, education project supports oyster gardening program

Relevance:

The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program is a volunteer-based project that focuses on education, restoration/enhancement and research by bringing the reef to the people. Since the program began in 2001, oyster gardeners have produced more than 800,000 oysters (enough to restore approximately 40.5 acres) for restoration and enhancement efforts within Mobile Bay. Additional volunteers and funding were needed to support these restoration efforts.

Response:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant launched The Oyster Trail, an interactive scavenger hunt through Mobile and Baldwin counties in Alabama. The Oyster Trail currently has 28 5-foot-tall oyster statues that local artists have painted. A business, group or nongovernmental organization pays a yearly fee to sponsor an oyster on their property or in a public space. Each fiberglass oyster statue includes a fact plaque that displays information about oysters or estuaries. Maps and a scavenger hunt form (which includes a list of questions about the oyster facts) can be found around town or on The Oyster Trail's website. Proceeds from oyster sponsorships go to support the ongoing restoration efforts of the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program.

Results:

Twenty-eight businesses, groups and NGOs are active sponsors of The Oyster Trail. Statues placed in 28 locations around Mobile Bay provide a visual reminder of our connection to the estuarine environment. They generated $103,742 in gross proceeds to support the trail and the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program. In addition to the sites in Alabama, the Trail has expanded to include sites in Virginia and New Jersey, where local restoration efforts have capitalized on the success of the trail. Proceeds go toward material and logistical and equipment costs associated with gardening and planting efforts in Mobile Bay and Mississippi Sound.

Recap:

The Mississippi-Alabama Oyster Trail raises awareness and funds for the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program's restoration efforts. (2017)

Oyster gardening programs provide 237,115 oysters capable of restoring 11.76 acres of reef habitat

Relevance:

Oyster reef degradation is an issue in terms of habitat loss, filtration loss and shoreline protection from erosive forces.

Response:

Oyster gardening programs in Alabama and Mississippi utilized volunteer gardeners to provide nursery protections to juvenile oysters which were relayed to restoration sites in Alabama and Mississippi. Oyster gardening has been a successful restoration and environmental stewardship program in the Mobile Bay estuary since 2001. Ecosystem services like regulating services and habitat services are secondary benefits from oyster gardening. Documenting these services using valid economic values provides a more accurate representation of the importance of oysters and the role they play in our estuaries.
 

Results:

From 2014-2017, the oyster gardening programs in Alabama and Mississippi produced 237,115 oysters with a mean height of 50.0 mm capable of restoring up to 11.76 acres. The programs included two schools and averaged 52 volunteer sites and 116 individuals (excluding students) each year. The value of this restorative effort exceeded $226,672. Also, the participants’ 9,280 volunteer hours (estimated at one hour per week per volunteer for the season with an average value of $23.73/hour) were valued at $220,214, bringing the total project value to $446,886 for the four-year time period.

Recap:

An average of 116 volunteer gardeners per year from 52 sites per year produced 237,115 oysters capable of restoring up to 11.76 acres of habitat valued at $226,672 and a volunteer time value of $220,214 for a total of $445,886 in project value over the 2014-2017 period. (2017)

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant leadership prompts volunteers to give more than $1.2 worth of time, effort and expertise to coastal issues

Relevance:

Coastal residents across Mississippi and Alabama seek opportunities to learn more about and enhance the bays, bayous and beaches throughout the region. Often they do not know where they can serve. Meanwhile, large-scale programs such as oyster gardening, beach cleanups, coastal research projects and similar programs do not have enough staffing to complete the needed work.  

Response:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant created programs and/or led long-standing programs that provided opportunities for volunteers to contribute their time, effort and expertise to enhance coastal areas. These programs include Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program, Mississippi Coastal Cleanup, Mississippi Master Naturalist Program, a variety of education programs and research-related projects.

Results:

Between 2014 and 2017, thousands of people participated in Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant-led volunteer activities and programs. These volunteers contributed more than 64,000 hours valued at $1.22M, based on a $19 value of an hour of volunteer time.

Recap:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant provided volunteer opportunities to coastal residents, and their contributions were valued at more than $1.22M. (2017)

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant leads effort to provide three communities with technical assistance in resilience planning

Relevance:

Local governments have cited the need for technical assistance for resilience planning to interpret information, provide science-based solutions and envision an enhanced future state of resilience.

Response:

After participation in a Coastal Community Resilience Index session facilitated by Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium (MASGC) staff and MASGC-trained facilitators, the coastal communities of Fairhope (Alabama), Biloxi (Mississippi) and Terrebonne Parish (Louisiana) identified technical assistance needs. MASGC applied for and received a grant for $296,315 from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to create Expert Action Teams, which include local knowledge expertise and science expertise to solve a pressing problem in each of these communities. The MASGC-led effort released a Request for Resilient Action (RRA) that led to high-priority implementation projects in the three states.

Results:

The MASGC-led Expert Action Teams are assisting: (1) the City of Fairhope with a design charrette detailing options for achieving Clean and Resilient Marina status and improving stormwater runoff; (2) the City of Biloxi with creating uniform signage for living shoreline projects throughout the city and creating informational resources (written and online) to communicate with homeowners about living shoreline benefits; and (3) Terrebonne Parish with the development of plans for a floating grocery/supply store and the legal components associated with this type of infrastructure. As a result of this assistance, Fairhope has successfully addressed stormwater issues at a marina and received a Clean Vessel Act grant from the state of Alabama for the installation of pumpout stations at the site. Biloxi has approved signage for two living shorelines projects (Camp Wilkes and Old Brick House) along with consideration for an additional site (Popps Ferry Causeway). Terrebonne Parish is reviewing mock-up designs for the floating grocery store and enlisting grocery store experts to discuss stocking and restocking options.

Recap:

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant led a unique technical assistance effort that created multi-disciplinary Expert Action Teams in three local governments to increase their resilience to future coastal storms. (2017)

Small grant awards support climate adaptation, resilience planning in 20 communities

Relevance:

Coastal communities lack the financial capacity and resources to proactively plan for long-term resilience and adapt to changes related to climate stressors.

Response:

Between 2014 and 2017, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant obtained four separate grants to enhance community resilience. The grants (from the NOAA Regional Coastal Resilience Grant, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, NOAA Coastal Storms Program and Gulf of Mexico Alliance) are managed and led by a joint Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant/Gulf of Mexico Alliance position. Four competitive funding opportunities were released for communities who had completed a self-assessment (the Coastal Community Reslience Inedex) and identified a gap that could be addressed with funding assistance. In addition, Misssissippi led three separate climate adaptation competitions that selected a community implementation project addressing climate stressors.

Results:

A total of 20 small grants were awarded to communities across the Gulf of Mexico, and the communities have been integrated into the Gulf of Mexico Climate and Resilience Community of Practice. In addition, the communities commited $225,000 in matching funds making the total project implementation value over $1M. Communities addressed issues in several categories: stormwater management, Community Rating System and insurance, business continuity planning, sea-level rise and future flooding, protect

Recap:

Twenty coastal communities received funding to address vulnerabilities and implement on-the-ground projects to enhance their resilience. (2017)