Restoring oysters, planting seagrass and removing old watercraft were among the projects selected for funding by the Brevard County Commission at its last regular meeting in August.

What do you want to know

  • Ten projects have been funded for the coming fiscal year through the so-called “bed tax”.
  • Nearly $940,000 in funds was approved by the Tourism Development Board and subsequently the Brevard County Commission.
  • Funds will be distributed in the new fiscal year

Ten projects have been submitted and approved for funding under the Tourism Development Council (TDC) Tourism + Lagoon Grant Program.

The BCC approved funding for 10 projects under the program’s fiscal year 2023 budget at the August 30 committee meeting. A total of $939,343 has been approved out of the $1,076,377 requested. Four of the 14 proposed projects did not receive funding.

Approved projects include the following (in order of amount of funds received from top to bottom with nominating organizations):

Brevard County Department of Natural Resources

  • o Project — Restoration of seagrass beds for better natural resilience
  • o Funding — $250,000
  • o Matching — $250,000 (100%)

Brevard County Department of Natural Resources

  • o Project — Titusville Causeway Multitrophic Coastline Stabilization and Resilience Action Project, Phase 2c
  • o Funding — $250,000
  • o Matching — $250,000 (100%)

Brevard Zoo

  • Project — Brevard County Oyster Restoration
  • Funding — $113,840
  • Matching — $181,380 (159%)

Satellite Beach City

  • Project — Satellite Beach Adopt-A-Canal
  • Funding — $49,999
  • Matching — $30,947 (62%)

Marine Resources Council

  • Project — Innovative solutions to protect our public spaces
  • Funding — $49,999
  • Matching — $18,000 (36%)

Satellite Beach City

  • Project – Samsons Island Submerged Land Restoration, Phase 3
  • Funding — $49,839
  • Matching — $80,087 (160%)

Brevard County Department of National Resources

  • Project — Removal of Abandoned Vessels
  • Funding — $49,300
  • Matching — $0 (0%)

University of Florida Whitney Laboratory

  • Project — Restoring Native Clam Communities in the Indian River Lagoon to Improve Water Quality and Economic Resilience
  • Funding — $49,100
  • Matching — $22,000 (45%)

Keep Brevard Beautiful

  • Project – KBB Flex Team N. Banana River Drive Waste Removal
  • Funding — $40,000
  • Matching — $0 (0%)

Red wine from the sea

  • Project – New Swell Mangrove Restoration and Awareness Project
  • Funding — $37,266
  • Matching — $17,500 (37%)

The project that invests the most of its own money in its project is the work done on Samsons Island near the town of Satellite Beach. He is investing nearly $81,000 in matching funds for phase three of his work using oysters to help improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL).

Nick Sanzone, the city’s environmental programs coordinator, said the program grew out of Satellite Beach’s 2018 Sustainability Action Plan, created in partnership with Florida Tech. He said one of the goals was to “create ecological achievement goals that we would achieve to become more sustainable.”

With this final round of funding secured, the project will now enter phase three of its work.

Resilience through oysters

Oysters are an extremely important part of the IRL ecosystem. According to the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day.

This particular project from the City of Satellite Beach has three phases. The first phase was designed to bring together 10 partners for the work, including the Florida Oceanographic Society, Florida Tech and the Marine Resources Council. It also involved collecting thousands of oyster shells and placing them in a semi-circle off the Samsons Island Nature Reserve.

The location was chosen in part because it was historically an area that supported abundant populations of seagrass and oysters.

“We worked with our partners at the Marine Discovery Center and the Ford Oceanographic Society to supply the oyster shells,” Sanzone said. “So over 30 tonnes of oyster shells in phase one and about another 20 tonnes of oyster shells in phase two to create oyster breakwaters, which act as a break wall around the site to reduce wave energy and create possible habitats for oysters.”

The wall is about 3 and a half feet high and is made from about 5,500 bags of oyster shells. They are also experimenting with the type of containers that best attract oysters. There are 100 gabions, a kind of metal cage; 500 oyster cushions, which are wire mesh; and 40 oyster prisms, made from concrete hessian fabric.

“We’re trying to move away from plastic mesh, so we’re testing those other materials,” Sanzone said.

The second phase focused on site monitoring. Sanzone said it offered good preliminary data, but they wanted to both continue and expand the process, so they wrote the grant application for phase three.

This additional funding enables the team to not only support regular site monitoring and sample testing, but also to bring community members to the sites through eco-tours, which will be offered twice a month. from October 2022.

“I’m going to quote someone who did the original restoration of Samsons Island in 1994. When they restored it, he said it’s the direct, felt experience of restoration projects like this that have a lasting effect on future generations,” Sanzon said. . “And that’s what we want to foster and instill is that kind of enduring, interconnected mindset in young people.”

Sanzone said his love for the environment came from school trips from college to IRL that have always stuck with him. After moving from his hometown of Satellite Beach, Sanzone took that college energy and passion from the University of Florida to the Nature Conservancy and eventually to Satellite Beach.

“Eventually, you’re just living the dream. You’re just doing your dream job, engaging with the community and helping advance science and the understanding of how people can co-exist with the environment,” Sanzone said.

He said that the goal of this work, in part, is to be able to take all the data they collect on the impact of this type of project, both on the oysters and the seagrass that grow inside. of the barrier, and put them into white papers that can be used by governments and communities both in Florida and across the country.

“The end goal for me is to realize that the lagoon is not dying. There is a lot of talk, but the lagoon is not dying,” Sanzone said. “It’s sick, sure, but that just means you have to put more time and effort into healing, more understanding.”

Sanzone noted that Satellite Beach and other communities in Brevard County are dealing with the way the canals were established in the mid-1950s, when planners designed the irrigation systems to allow stormwater to “s ‘drain as quickly as possible, because they wanted to stay dry.’

“They didn’t think about the future. We live in their future and learn from their mistakes,” Sanzone said. “And it’s not that they were bad people, they just didn’t think about the things that we now have to think about on a daily basis.”

“I hope we can look ahead, so that future generations will have the clean lagoon we grew up with and maybe even cleaner, so they can go fishing and swimming without worrying about algae blooms, devastating fish kills and loss of seagrass,” he added. “That’s my perspective full of hope and optimism.”

To learn more about the project, click here. The next meeting of the TDC is scheduled for Thursday 28 September.