Ft. Pierce, Florida
This project was funded in FY2020 by the FishAmerica Foundation.
Moore’s Creek discharges into the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) and often decreases the quality of the water within this portion of the IRL. The IRL is one of North America’s largest and most diverse estuaries, and in recent years has suffered from reduced water quality causing extensive loss of seagrass, an important fish community nursery habitat. Starting in 2016, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), with St. Lucie County, has planted 1,190 Vallisneria americana (eelgrass) plants and 50 Ruppia maritima (widgeongrass) plants within exclosures. These exclosures are required to exclude herbivores and allow time for plants to establish. While seagrass has expanded beyond the exclosures, vegetation has not completely covered the bottom, requiring additional plantings. FishAmerica Foundation funding covered 28 exclosures, and this contribution was matched with an additional 18 exclosures and 230 plants through FWC funding. These plantings within Moore’s Creek will provide a natural filter that will help to remove nutrients and sediment from the water before it enters the IRL.
This project is one of many to increase public awareness of aquatic habitats in urban areas and the important role that they play in the health of the Indian River Lagoon. Municipal leaders will also be educated on ways to save money through proper aquatic habitat management (i.e. reduced herbicide application, reduction of storm water runoff, etc.) while local schools will be encouraged to use the restored areas as an outdoor classroom. Local volunteer organizations also conduct regular shoreline and littoral zone clean-up efforts in this system. Because Moore’s Creek is located within downtown Ft. Pierce, it is also used for subsistence fishing and increasing the abundance and health of the species caught in the creek is important for the local community.
Photos and text provided by FL FWC.