EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Nearly 100 volunteers have taken turns moving rocks along Eglin’s shorelines near Postl Point to protect nearby archaeological sites from the impacts of erosion.
The volunteers are teamed with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance building wave breaks known as “living shorelines,” and are in the process of building an artificial reef on 1,400 linear feet of Eglin coastline near Postl Point.
These living shorelines, piles of limestone rocks supplemented with marsh grasses are placed in the shallow waters about 10 feet from the shore and will work to prevent further erosion and keep invaluable archaeological sites protected.
“We’ve experienced some significant erosion along Eglin’s property and we’re required by federal law to protect these cultural resources as best we can,” said Ben Aubuchon, 96th Civil Engineer Group’s Cultural Resources manager. “We looked at a lot of options and settled on the living shorelines. They’re cost-effective and have added benefits for water quality and marine habitat.”
Eglin contracted with the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance to build the reef breaks at strategic locations on base property along the Choctawhatchee Bay ranging from main base to Freeport. The CBA uses volunteers on these projects, which saves the base money, allowing them to complete more reef breaks.
So far, the volunteer teams completed 450 feet of reef using more than 60 tons of limestone at the Postl Point site alone.
Since this project is just off main base in the bay and requires the volunteers to have base access, the CBA challenged all base organizations to mobilize and compete to see who could build more reefs for prizes.
Eglin’s housing privatization team, Corvias, were the first volunteers to respond to the challenge and provided 36 employees and contributed 200 hours of effort to the project and came away with a sense of team accomplishment.
“When you work on a project that is as labor intensive as building a shoreline, it seems every second provides a new experience,” said Katie Fuentes, Corvias construction service administrator. “These projects always help to unify and energize our team, so it was just a great opportunity to come together in a different setting to help make a difference.”
Staff Sgt. Cody Smith, 823rd Red Horse Squadron at Hurlburt Field, arrived here in June and found out about the volunteer opportunity during his in-processing.
“I thought this was a pretty cool idea, so I brought it up and everybody jumped on it,” said Smith. He brought 23 volunteers from their vehicle maintenance section August 24 and rapidly made short work of the rock pile.
To date, CBA has completed three living shorelines here; the Postl Point site is the fourth. Eglin has plans to build living shorelines for at least two more sites.
Any organizations interested in volunteering for this project can contact Rachel Gwin, CBA Restoration Coordinator at 850-200-4164.