DEP Aquatic Preserves Earns Award for Best Restored Shoreline

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DEP Aquatic Preserves Earns Award for Best Restored Shoreline 

~Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves’ Cat Point Living Shoreline project within
Apalachicola Bay selected for top honor~ 

Cat Point Living Shoreline

Cat Point Living Shoreline Project in Apalachicola Bay

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is celebrating the recent recognition by the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which named the Cat Point Living Shoreline project in Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve as one of five recipients for the 2023 Best Restored Shores Award.  

The Cat Point Living Shoreline project – a Natural Resource Damage Assessment restoration project funded through BP’s Deepwater Horizon restoration efforts in the Gulf – utilizes nature-based solutions to transform a disappearing shoreline into a thriving and functional salt marsh habitat.  

“Florida’s coastlines are a part of our state’s invaluable and unique identity, and living shoreline projects like Cat Point have a vital role in Florida’s comprehensive approach to fortifying our shorelines and communities,” said DEP Secretary Shawn Hamilton. “The strategies used in this project are already being replicated for similar marsh habitat restoration projects, including one ongoing by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in South Carolina.” 

As part of the restoration project, 16 breakwater structures – stretching almost 1,300 feet – were established to protect the shoreline against flooding and storm surge while also providing critical habitat for oyster restoration. Behind the breakwaters, 20,634 plants were transplanted to create almost an acre of new salt marsh habitat.  

The breakwater system, in conjunction with the reintroduction and expansion of native marsh grasses, has restored and enhanced habitat functionality for multiple species vital to Apalachicola Bay, including oysters, blue crabs and juvenile fish.  

DEP worked with an extensive group of public and private partners on this restoration project, including the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Duke Energy, and the Conservation Corps of the Forgotten and Emerald Coasts, demonstrating the benefits of the cooperation among state, local and private partners. 

“Living shorelines are crucial for mitigating shoreline erosion, maintaining habitats and sustaining resilient coasts,” said Central Panhandle Aquatic Preserves Manager Jonathan Brucker. “DEP staff, partners and volunteers have worked hard to restore and protect Apalachicola Bay, and their efforts will have a lasting impact on Florida's environmental legacy.” 

The American Shore and Beach Preservation Association established the Best Restored Shores Award to acknowledge and encourage more effective coastal risk management, including restoring natural infrastructure and addressing erosion, flooding and related hazards. The 2023 Best Restored Shores were recognized last week at the Association’s National Coastal Conference in Providence, Rhode Island.  

Learn more about DEP’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection and Florida’s 42 aquatic preserves.