Money for $6.8 million environmental project came from BP oil spill settlement

CEDAR KEY — Here, on a barge a little more than a mile off of Shell Mound Campground, about 60 scientists, conservation officials, builders and oystermen gathered to celebrate a collaborative effort.

They came by airboat and skiffs to witness the restoration of the Lone Cabbage Oyster Reef, a project more than eight years and $6.8 million in the making. The blue and orange ribbon on a portion of the 3.5-mile lime rock barrier was cut shortly before 10 a.m. Monday, after words from University of Florida wildlife, ecology and conservation Professor Peter Frederick, who helped spearhead efforts to return the reef to its former glory.

“Normally, the ribbon cutting is the end of something, the end of a construction project,” Frederick told the crowd “This is the beginning of something.”

The goal of the project is to help increase resilience along the Nature Coast in the face of climate change and sea level rise. It was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Deepwater Horizon oil spill settlement, without using state or federal tax dollars. A team of UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Science scientists helped coordinate the project, led by Frederick, UF professor Bill Pine and Leslie Sturmer, a shellfish expert at the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station in Cedar Key.

Partnering with UF in the project were the Cedar Key Oysterman’s Association and Cedar Key Aquaculture Association. Five different companies contributed to the construction of the reef, including The Brentwood Company, manager, D&L Contracting, C.A. Boone Construction, Clamtastics Seafood and Griffin Construction.

“It’s a major ecosystem project and we’ll learn a lot from this, for the future of what we’re all facing with sea level rise,” said UF/IFAS senior vice president Jack Payne.




Written by Kevin Brockway from the Gainesville Sun