STC’s fifth annual Sea Turtles Dig the Dune workshop brought together more than 150 volunteers at the Barrier Island Center (BIC) on Saturday, Feb. 7 to plant nearly 7,000 sea oats throughout the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (ACNWR).

The ACNWR stretches 20.5 miles between Melbourne Beach and Wabasso Beach along Florida’s east coast and with recent climate changes, severe weather and sea level rise, erosion is becoming a critical issue for the area.

The dune habitat not only protects our coastal properties, but also provides important nesting locations for the three species of endangered sea turtles found in the ACNWR, including Loggerheads, Greens and Leatherbacks.

STC gave coastal residents and communities free sea oat seedlings and planting permits during the workshop, which was partially funded by the Florida Sea Turtle license plate. The sea oat’s tall grass can capture the wind-blown sand necessary to build the dunes back up, and its widespread, stable roots will keep the dunes in place for years to come.

After the planting, STC invited everyone to the BIC for an educational presentation by Larry Wood, founder of the Florida Hawksbill Project. Attendees learned about Wood’s recent research on the endangered hawksbill sea turtles that inhabit coral reefs off the coast of south Florida.

Some of STC’s workshop partners and participants shared what they thought of the event this year:
“A GIANT thanks goes out to Sea Turtle Conservancy for sharing sea oat seedlings for our volunteers to plant…thanks again everyone for a job well done!” – Curtis Byrd, Chairman, Town of Melbourne Beach Environmental Advisory Board
 – Thanks, once again, for providing us with sea oats seedlings. I lost no time in getting them planted. Our dune is looking healthy and beautiful as a result of these stewardship workshops you have offered over the last 5 years!” – Carl & Judy Kaiserman, Barrier Island Residents
We had lots of fun planting the sea oats!! Thanks for giving us the opportunity to do something for our beaches and turtles.” – Glenn, Cheryl, George, Mary & Sophie, Opus 21 Condominium
This year’s workshop planted more seeds than ever before. We look forward to watching our volunteer’s hard work grow into a better future for Florida’s wildlife, and we hope you’ll join us next year.

To see more photos from the event, visit the Barrier Island Center on Facebook.

Editor’s Note: This Article originally appeared on Sea Turtle Conservancy and is featured here with permission.


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