The Friends of Rookery Bay received a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation to help restore oyster reefs. Walmart’s “Day of Giving” event awarded $485,000 in grants to 18 Florida nonprofits to help fund hunger relief, education, reef restoration and women’s economic empowerment efforts across the state through the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program.
The Friends of Rookery Bay contributes to research and education programs undertaken by the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. “The Friends’ mission is to support education, research and stewardship at the Reserve, and this restoration project has all three components,” said Craig Seibert, the Friends of Rookery Bay president. “We are delighted to be a part of the educational experience for the students in Collier County,” he concluded.
“We are very pleased to be a part of this restoration effort, and to engage local students so that they can learn more about oyster reefs and restoration ecology in their own backyard” said Gary Lytton, Director for the Rookery Bay Reserve. The project is slated for the Cocohatchee estuary, located in North Naples. The estuary is the site of previous oyster reef research and restoration conducted by Dr. Michael Savarese from FGCU.
“The Cocohatchee estuary is an ideal region for reef restoration,” said Savarese. “The correct environmental conditions exist, but development in the recent past consumed much of the available mangrove-forested edge most suitable for natural reef development.”
The project will enable biologists from the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, faculty from Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), and high school students from Collier County to work together to design and construct a small scale oyster reef in summer 2015.