MacDill community preserves natural beauty and stability

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan C. Grossklag
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

A group of determined volunteers powered through a gloomy, rain-filled morning, Dec. 14, 2018 to construct an oyster reef along Bayshore Boulevard's shoreline, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

A local non-profit organization brought in over 10 tons of fossilized seashells from Punta Gorda, Florida to fill mesh bags and form the barrier reef offshore.

“Tampa Bay has a very large oyster population and creating reefs gives juvenile groups a habitat to attach and grow,” said Andy Lykens, the non-profit organization environmental scientist. “Reefs provide sources of food, as well as optimal shelters from severe weather events.”

The Oyster Reef Stabilization Project, which started in 2004, focuses on advancing MacDill’s vast ecosystem as well as restoring natural shoreline damage.

“MacDill’s eastern shoreline is prone to erosion and a majority of this area has been hardened with limestone to make an erosion-resistant shoreline,” said Eric Vichich, 6th Civil Engineer Squadron natural resources manager. “The oyster bars stabilize the shoreline while the clean the water, creating a better habitat and serving as a food source for various species of fish and wildlife.”

Thanks to the lasting partnerships between MacDill’s environmental flight and organizations within the local community, events over the years continue to showcase the complete dedication to keeping MacDill healthy and beautiful long into the future.