Pilot Restoration Project
Parker Island is a 5.5 acre small island on the southeastern side of Kings Bay in Crystal River, Florida. Parker Island surrounds a natural spring and is a popular destination for family boating, swimmers, fishermen, and paddlers.
Since 1944, the salt marsh coverage in the southernmost part of Kings Bay area along our shorelines and islands have been reduced from 211 acres down to 82.5 acres in 2023 – a loss of over 128 acres. This represents not only habitat loss, but storm and wave protection for the community, breeding grounds for both aquatic and terrestrial species, and important estuaries.
This map reflects the changes to the marsh and shoreline.
Restoring Parker Island will provide numerous ecosystem benefits. Reopening the blocked channel on the north side of the Island will ensure that natural tidal flows are maintained and prevent areas of reduced flow that may act as algae sinks on the backside of the island, where seagrass beds were recently restored as part of the Kings Bay Restoration Project. This project will also provide a replicable model for future tidal marsh restoration projects throughout Crystal River and similar ecosystems. Restoring tidal marsh habitat will help to improve water quality throughout the river, improve recreational fishing, provide habitat for fish and wading birds, protect shorelines from further eroding away, and restore the original shoreline and island size of Parker Island.
The Parker Island Restoration Project
has three Primary Components:
The artificial land bridge of sediments that have been deposited within the historic channel along the north side of Parker Island as a result of storms will be hydraulically removed and the channel reopened. Approximately 1000 cubic yards of eroded sediment will be removed and deposited onto an upland processing site and then trucked to an authorized disposal site. Clean sediments removed from the dredge area may also be used to assist in shoreline restoration along the western and southern shoreline of Parker Island.
Installation of Wave Attenuation Devices (WADs)
One of the largest factors contributing to the loss of marsh habitat in Kings Bay and other islands along the coast of Florida is the shoreline erosion caused by wave energy from boat wakes and storm events. Save Crystal River plans to use the patented wave attenuation devices (WADs) to create a unique wave break that will reduce the force of the wave energy rather than reflecting or refracting it. Once in place, WADs not only protect the shoreline from further erosion, but also help trap and deposit sediment on the backside of where they are placed. These devices also provide important habitat opportunities for birds, fish, and other aquatic life.
Marsh and Submerged
Tidal freshwater marsh, salt marsh, and submerged aquatic plant communities are historically important ecosystems to Crystal River. Once WADs are placed, nursery grown marsh plants (ex. Sawgrass) will be planted along the southern and western shorelines in areas where it historically occurred. Restoring marsh plants will provide unique habitat for the species that use it and further protect the shoreline from erosion. Additionally, submerged aquatic vegetation (ex. eelgrass) will be planted once dredging is complete to further reinforce the dredged area and provide a long-term solution. This project can be replicable throughout Crystal River where shoreline erosion has taken place. As we transition down river, oyster bags may serve as an alternative wave break, providing a chance for oyster recruitment and restoration. Salt marsh plants can be grown and utilized as well in more saline portions of the river.
Where has this worked before?
The use of WADS in similar situations has been successfully used for shoreline restoration at Apollo Beach, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, and many other shoreline restoration locations throughout Florida.