The Airport Rd. Living Shoreline is underway! Read on for more information and highlights from the project. Subscribe to our YouTube and follow our Facebook and Instagram for live updates from the field.

Phase 1: Oyster Reef Installation

The first phase of construction on Airport Rd. is the installation of 16 reefs that will provide the majority of the wave energy reduction for the shoreline. These reefs are constructed using 24 pallet ball units (sourced from the Sarasota-based company Reef Innovations). These 4-ft wide by 3-ft high modules are each made of 1,300 lbs of an oyster-friendly blend of concrete. Along with help from some generous community members, we took delivery of 11 truckloads (384 units) of pallet balls to Cedar Key on June 11-13, 2020.

reef balls stacked near a shoreline
Skid steer carrying a reef ball

These units were installed in permitted locations off of Airport Rd. using the aid of a shallow draft barge during mid-June 2020.


Phase 2: Raise Elevations with Sand

The Airport Rd. shoreline has lost a good deal of sand to erosion over the years, leaving the road and properties more exposed than before. Once the reefs are constructed, wave energy (erosive force) will be greatly reduced along the shoreline. This will allow our team to bring in clean fill sand to restore the shoreline to historical elevations.

The sand will be trucked in from an approved mine near Grandin, FL. During delivery of the sand, there will be some minor disruptions to the normal traffic pattern in the area so the trucks can access the shoreline when delivering sand.

As the sand is delivered, it will be graded with the assistance of heavy machinery and most of the sand will be stabilized with vegetation plantings in Phase 3. However, some areas will remain sandy beach.

Phase 3: Vegetation Plantings

The final construction activity will be to install marsh and dune vegetation in several zones along the shoreline. This will help stabilize and hold sands in place. The plants also provide extra protection for the shoreline through the wave dampening effects.

Initially, plants will be installed with the help of volunteers with a spacing of approximately 18-14 inches in between. The plant species to be installed include smooth cordgrass, saltmeadow cordgrass, sea oats, panic grass, dune sunflower, and seaside goldenrod. Within a few years, the original planting zones should be completely filled in.

Over time, the vegetative communities may even begin to trap more sand and cause the land area to expand.

Newly planted low marsh area
new marsh plants in buckets and people with shovels

Ongoing Activities: Monitoring and Education

Monitoring: Our team has been conducting pre-construction monitoring since summer 2019. These sampling efforts will continue post-construction until at least 2021. Variables monitored include fish abundance and diversity, elevation, plant density and survival, and oyster recruitment and density.

Education: Interesting in visiting the shoreline for an educational tour? Get in touch with us to set up an experience for your group. You can also visit the shoreline on your own, or participate in one of our virtual tour options coming soon!


Biologists from NCBS studying fish communities at Airport Rd.
Biologists from UF/NCBS measure and release fish from living shoreline site
Measuring elevation on a shoreline