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AWF, Cooper Marine, Vulcan team up for oyster restoration effort

The Alabama Wildlife Federation has formed a partnership with Vulcan Materials and Cooper Marine for a Gulf Coast environmental restoration project, it was announced today.

Vulcan Materials will provide limestone from its Tuscumbia Pride quarry to be used as oyster cultch, which is a material laid down to furnish points of attachment for recently settled oysters or “spat.” The limestone will be transported by Cooper Marine down the Tennessee River, into the Tombigbee River, and then finally to Mobile Bay.

The project will be used to reinvigorate oyster reefs, specifically at Cedar Point Beach, the federation said.

“Protecting and conserving the state of Alabama’s beautiful wildlife and outdoors is critically important and we as a state are fortunate to have great partners who recognize this need to ensure future generations enjoy these benefits,” said AWF Executive Director Tim Gothard. “This environmental restoration effort is unique because it is funded in its entirety by private dollars. Vulcan Materials Company and Cooper Marine, along with other partners, have joined AWF in providing the funding and the resources to make this project possible, and we are excited to see this material arrive in Mobile Bay in the next two weeks.”

Cooper Group President Angus Cooper III said his company is committed to the state’s natural resources and environment.

“Our participation in this project echoes our commitment to Alabama’s natural resources and environmental upkeep,” he said. “We are proud to be a part of the partnership with Vulcan Materials Company, AWF and others in this restoration effort on the Gulf Coast.”

Others in the state also understand the need to protect the oysters off Alabama’s coast, including Chris Blankenship, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner.

“With continuously declining oyster populations since the 1950s, for a variety of reasons, it is imperative that we step up and make investments into the reefs oysters need to thrive so that oyster populations in Alabama waters can continue to be successful,” he said.

“This project, which is fully funded through private dollars, will play a critical role in doing just that and is an integral piece to our comprehensive oyster restoration strategy.”

Vulcan donated 6,500 tons of limestone cultch material; Cooper Marine provided more than $150,000 for transportation; AWF donated $100,000 for the deployment of the oyster cultch; and the Coastal Land Trust, Jernigan Foundation, J.L. Bedsole Foundation and PowerSouth all donated equal amounts to match AWF dollar for dollar on the deployment of the cultch.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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