On June 14th my family and I joined North Carolina’s Coastal Federation (NCCF) for a Jones Island litter cleanup. Jones Island, a 24-acre barrier island situated in the middle of the White Oak River, was purchased by NCCF and partners to be included as part of the Hammock’s Beach State Park in 2007 for environmental and cultural preservation. Apart from being an important ecological system that houses the federal species of concern the Eastern Painted Bunting, Jones Island reduces the amount of stormwater in the White Oak. Much of the White Oak is closed to shellfishing permanently in some areas due to high levels of bacteria caused by stormwater runoff and development.
NCCF’s Coastal Scientist Lexia Weaver explained the importance of the living shoreline along the barrier island. This shoreline is made up of planted marsh grasses and netted oyster shell bags to prevent erosion and encourage the growth of the eastern oyster. Why is the eastern oyster so important? Aside from being delicious, the eastern oyster can filter 25 to 50 gallons of water per day. This is not only good for water quality, but also provides great habitat for varieties of marsh grass and additional water dwelling creatures like the hermit crab pictured here.
We hauled out a lot of trash that day, met some wonderful locals, and had lots of conversations regarding the health of the barrier island and the White Oak River.
I thoroughly enjoyed this cleanup and look forward to joining NC Coastal Federation on many river projects in the future.
Nicole L. Triplett
White Oak-New Riverkeeper