Tag Archive: Solutions

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Coastal Erosion–a problem with new solutions

Life on the Gulf Coast can be beautiful, but has its share of complications. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Life on the coast has tremendous benefits; steady sea breezes, gorgeous beaches, plentiful fishing and paddling opportunities. Nevertheless, there are definite downsides to living along it, too. Besides storms like Hurricane Harvey making semi-regular appearances, our proximity to the water can make us more vulnerable to flooding and waterborne hazards ranging from bacteria to jellyfish. One year-round problem for those living directly on a shoreline is erosion. Causes for shoreline erosion are wide-ranging; heavy boat traffic, foot traffic, storms, lack of vegetation with anchoring roots, and sea level rise.

 

Many homeowners experiencing loss of property due to erosion unwittingly contribute to it by installing seawalls. When incoming waves hit the hard surface of the wall, energy reflects back and moves down the coast. Often, an adjacent homeowner will experience increased erosion and bank scouring after a neighboring property installs a seawall. This will often lead that neighbor to install a seawall themselves, transferring the problem further.

Erosion can damage root systems of shoreline trees and grasses. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

Currently, south Louisiana is experiencing significant coastal erosion and wetlands losses. The problem is compounded by several factors, including canals dredged by oil companies, which damage and break up large patches of the marsh. Subsidence, in which the land is literally sinking under the sea, is happening due to a reduced load of sediment coming down the Mississippi River. Sea level rise has contributed to erosion, and most recently, an invasive insect has caused large-scale death of over 100,000 acres of Roseau cane (Phragmites australis). Add the residual impacts from the oil spill, and you can understand the complexity of the situation.

 

Luckily, there are ways to address coastal erosion, on both the small and large scale. On Gulf and Atlantic beaches, numerous coastal communities have invested millions in beach renourishment, in which offshore sand is barged to the coast to lengthen and deepen beaches. This practice, while common, can be controversial because of the cost and risk of beaches washing out during storms and regular tides. However, as long as tourism is the #1 economic driver in the state, the return on investment seems to be worth it.

 

On quieter waters like bays and bayous, living shorelines have “taken root” as a popular method of restoring property and stabilizing shorelines. This involves planting marsh grasses along a sandy shore, often with oyster or rock breakwaters placed waterward to slow down wave energy, and allow newly planted grasses to take root.

 

Locally in Bayou Grande, a group of neighbors were experiencing shoreline erosion.  Over a span of 50 years, the property owners used a patchwork of legally installed seawalls, bulkheads, rip rap piles, private boat ramps, piers, mooring poles and just about anything else one can imagine, to reduce the problem. Over time, the seawalls and bulkheads failed, lowering the property value of the very property they were meant to protect and increasing noticeable physical damage to the adjacent properties.”

 

Project Greenshores is a large-scale living shoreline project in Pensacola. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

In 2011, a group of neighboring property owners along the bayou decided to take action. After considering many repair options, the neighbors decided to pursue a living shoreline based on aesthetics, long-term viability, installation cost, maintenance cost, storm damage mitigation and feasibility of installation. By 2017, the living shoreline was constructed.  Oyster shell piles were placed to slow down wave energy as it approached the transition zone from the long fetch across the bayou, while uplands damage was repaired and native marsh grasses and uplands plants were restored to slow down freshwater as it flowed towards the bayou.  Sand is now accruing as opposed to eroding along the shoreline.  Wading shorebirds are now a constant companion and live oysters are appearing along the entire 1,200-foot length.  Additionally the living shoreline solution provided access to resources, volunteer help, and property owner sweat equity opportunities that otherwise would have been unavailable.  An attribute that has surprisingly appeared – waterfront property owners are now able to keep their nicely manicured lawns down to within 30 feet of the water’s edge.  At that point, the landscape immediately switches back to native marsh plants, which creates a quite robust and attractive intersection. (Text and information courtesy Charles Lurton).

 

Successes like these all over the state have led the Florida Master Naturalist Program to offer a new special topics course on “Coastal Shoreline Restoration” which provides training in the restoration of living shorelines, oyster reefs, mangroves, and salt marsh, with focus on ecology, benefits, methods, and monitoring techniques.  Keep an eye out for this course being offered near you. If you are curious about living shorelines and want to know more, reach out to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection Ecosystem Restoration section for help and read through this  online document.

 

 

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Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/coastal-erosion-a-problem-with-new-solutions/

Upcoming Events: Spring into Gardening – Solutions !

Upcoming Events: Spring into Gardening – Solutions !

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/27/upcoming-events-spring-into-gardening-solutions/

Common Live Oak Problems and Solutions

Common Live Oak Problems and Solutions

 

The Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) is one of the most iconic figures of the Deep South. Mentioning the words Live Oak invokes all sorts of romantic nostalgia of yesteryear and the reputation is not unearned. In fact, many Live Oaks still stand that were growing on American soil when the first English settlers set foot on Plymouth Rock. They are long-lived, picturesque trees that also happen to be nearly bulletproof in the landscape. Given these factors, it is not surprising that Live Oak is far and away the most common tree included in both residential and commercial landscapes in the Coastal South. However, even the venerable Live Oak is not without its problems; this article will discuss a few of the more common issues seen with this grand species.

The Angel Oak near Charleston, SC

The Angel Oak near Charleston, SC

Few conditions afflict live oak but when they do, improper planting or cultural practices are usually at play. Observing the following best management practices will go a long way toward ensuring the long-term health of a planted Live Oak:

  • Remember to always plant trees a little higher than the surrounding soil to prevent water standing around the trunk or soil piling up around it, both of these issues frequently cause rot to occur at the base of the tree.
  • If planting a containerized tree, remember to score the rootball to prevent circling roots that will eventually girdle the tree. If planting a B&B (Balled and Burlap) specimen, remember to remove the strapping material from the top of the wire basket, failure to do this can also result in the tree being girdled.

Live Oak has few insect pests but there are some that prove bothersome to homeowners. The following are two of the most common pests of Live Oaks and how to manage them:

Typical galling on Live Oak

Typical galling on Live Oak

 

Galls are cancerous looking growths that appear on the leaves and twigs of Live Oak from time to time and are caused by gall wasps that visit the tree and lay their eggs inside the leaf or stem of the plant. The larvae hatch and emerge from the galls the following spring to continue the cycle. These galls are rarely more than aesthetically displeasing, however it is good practice to remove and destroy gall infected stems/leaves from younger trees as gall formation may cause some branch dieback or defoliation. Chemical control is rarely needed or practical (due to the very specific time the wasps are outside the tree and active) in a home landscape situation.

  • Black Twig Borers can also be problematic. These little insects seldom kill a tree but their damage (reduction of growth and aesthetic harm) can be substantial. Infestations begin in the spring in Northwest Florida, with the female twig borer drilling a pen-head sized hole in a large twig or small branch and then laying her eggs in the ensuing cavity. She then transmits an ambrosia fungus that grows in the egg-cavity, providing food for the borer, other borer adults, and her offspring that take up residence and over-winter in the twig. The activity of the insects in the twig has an effect similar to girdling; the infected twig will rapidly brown and die, making removal and destruction of the infected branches a key component

 

In conclusion, though there are a few problems that can potentially arise with Live Oak, its premier status and continued widespread use in the landscape is warranted and encouraged. It should be remembered that, relative to most other candidates for shade trees in the landscape, Live Oak is extremely durable, long-lived, and one of most pest and disease free trees available. Happy growing!

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Author: dleonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

dleonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/26/common-live-oak-problems-and-solutions/

Solutions for a Happy Independence Day!

It’s Fourth of July weekend and time to celebrate our independence with family and friends.  This week, we wanted to share with you some tips and tricks to make your celebration fun, yummy and safe! We’ve compiled a list of previous posts that you might want to reference for this weekend:

Photo by Jill Wellington

Photo by Jill Wellington

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/07/02/solutions-for-a-happy-independence-day/

Solutions for Cogongrass!

Solutions for Cogongrass!

Cogongrass dominating the landscape. Photo credit: Charles T. Bryson, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org.

Cogongrass dominating the landscape. Photo credit: Charles T. Bryson, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org.

A U.S. Forest Service grant is again available to assist non-industrial private landowners with the cost of controlling cogongrass. Applications will be accepted starting October 15, 2015. The program reimburses landowners for 50% of the cost for two consecutive years with a maximum reimbursement of $ 10,000 for each year.

Cogongrass is one of the worst invasive plant species in Northwest Florida as it marches through natural areas and literally chokes out our desirable native vegetation as it goes. The underground rhizomes continually expand patches of the grass in every direction and its prolific seed production carries infestations to new areas.

Note the off center midrib along the leaf blade. Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org.

Note the off center midrib along the leaf blade. Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org.

There are several ways to accurately identify cogongrass. The leaf blades are flat with serrated edges and tend to be yellowish-green in color. The midrib which runs lengthwise up each leaf blade is white and is distinctly off-center. The seed head which arises in the spring is a fluffy white plume. Since it spreads through rhizomes, cogongrass is often seen in expanding circular patches.

The fluffy white plume of the seedhead. Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org.

The fluffy white plume of the seedhead. Photo credit: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org.

 

 

 

 

 

If you need assistance with the identification of cogongrass, please consult your local Extension office.

For more information:

Cogongrass Treatment Cost-Share Program

Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) Biology, Ecology, and Management in Florida Grazing Lands

 

 

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/10/14/solutions-for-cogongrass/