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Transplanted Grasses Thrive

Jan 20th, 2016 | Category: Blogs, MDC News, Oyster Restoration News, Shoreline Restoration News

BeforeAfter2This past September, for the first time ever, the Marine Discovery Center was able to transplant Spartina alterniflora marsh grass from our new on-site nursery to a neighboring restoration site. Yesterday, we received photos of the transplanted grasses, and were amazed at how well they are already spreading and filling in the site.

Volunteers helped harvest 1,700 plugs of grass this fall, transport them to North Peninsula State Park, and plant them over roughly 2 acres as part of a multi-phase restoration project in Flagler Beach. Over the past 4 months, our little plugs of grass have been growing roots through the salty, sandy soil in North Peninsula State Park (NPSP), and slowly spreading out across the restoration area.


The area at NPSP was once a pile of fill material that was dredged out of the adjacent Intracoastal Waterway, but its elevation attracted invasive Brazilian pepper plants and failed to provide the appropriate estuarine habitat. Through the restoration project, these spoil piles have been regraded to a lower elevation that is now flushed by a daily tide, and will serve as vital habitat where dozens of species of fish, birds, and invertebrates can feed, breed, and develop. The transplanted Spartina alterniflora is a key component to the salt marsh ecosystem in northeast Florida, as the grass helps stabilize the sediment with its complex root systems, and provides shelter and food for many animals.

St. Johns River Water Management District, who oversees the large-scale restoration at NPSP, sent photos yesterday of our transplanted grasses. They are growing in very well and seem to be thriving in their new home. We expect the growth of the young Spartina alterniflora to accelerate in the spring with increased rainfall and warmer temperatures. We are thrilled by the success of this initial transplanting project from our nursery, and are looking forward to providing many more plants for regional restoration projects in the future. 

For more information about the salt marsh plant nursery at the Marine Discovery Center, or to get involved in restoration activities, call 386-428-4828 or contact Annie.Roddenberry@myfwc.com.