CBA rebuilding oyster reef at Mattie Kelly Park

Jacob Fuller
Members of the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance will add more shells to the oyster reef at Mattie Kelly Park Wednesday. They are asking for volunteers to help complete the work.

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance is looking for volunteers to help refurbish an oyster shell reef.

Members of the alliance, a non-profit program at Northwest Florida State College, as well as representatives from AmeriCorps, will be adding recycled and fossilized oyster shells to the reef near the pier at the Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk. 

“We've been working on some shoreline restoration at the Mattie Kelly fishing pier for several years doing different things,” CBA director Alison McDowell told The Log. "This is really an enhancement and refurbishment of the oyster reef habitat that we put out there. We decided it probably needs to be higher."

The reef will not only supply a home for oysters, which can filter impurities out of up to 50 gallons of water per day, but it will also provide shelter and habitat for a variety of sea life.

“Some of the fish that people like to catch around here, like red fish, love to feed on oyster reefs,” McDowell said. "And we build them in such a way that they act as break-waters. They can slow down wave action and break up wave action to help slow down or even reverse shoreline erosion."

To help with the reef construction, meet the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance at the Mattie Kelly Park and Nature Walk at 825 Beach Drive at 10 a.m. Wednesday. McDowell said volunteers will be done by about noon.