McNabb Park Living Shoreline
The City is excited to continue implementing projects to help the Indian River Lagoon, including our most recent project, the McNabb Park Living Shoreline. The City set out with a goal of making this a community based project by seeking assistance from both lagoon experts and community members. In recognizing the need for assistance and guidance from local lagoon experts the City Commission created the McNabb Park Living Shoreline Committee by adopting resolution 2020-14. This committee consisted of experts from the Brevard Zoo, Florida Tech, University of Florida IFAS Sea Grant, Marine Resources Council, Brevard County Department of Natural Resources and City staff. The recommended living shoreline designs resulting from these committee discussions were presented to the City Commission. The City Commission made additional recommendations to improve the living shoreline design by installing a dock at the park to retain resident’s unobstructed access to the waterway for fishing, and boating. Following this guidance, a dock was installed at the park and the living shoreline designs were adjusted to accommodate areas of unobstructed access and low growing vegetation to maintain waterfront views at the park.
What benefits do living shorelines provide to the lagoon? Living shorelines provide many benefits to the lagoon. Oysters and mangroves help filter excess nitrogen, phosphorous and pollutants from the water that often contribute to algae blooms. According to the Brevard County Save Our Indian River Lagoon Plan, the oysters and mangroves at this living shoreline site will remove 96lbs of nitrogen and 32lbs of phosphorus from the lagoon annually. This is equivalent to the amount of nutrients leached from 53 septic drainage fields.
Oyster bars and planted shorelines provide habitat for over 300 lagoon species including:
- Aquatic worms
- Black drum
- Sheep’s head
- Other fish, crustaceans and filter feeders
Why was McNabb Park chosen for a living shoreline? McNabb Park was chosen because the varying water depths provide an opportunity to demonstrate a variety of restoration techniques that are available to Cocoa Beach waterfront homeowners. The City also sees this as an opportunity to beautify the park by softening the hardened seawall structure with native plantings.
Was the community notified about this project? Yes. The City held a publicly broadcasted McNabb Living Shoreline committee meeting on September 4, 2020 where the living shoreline design concept was created. A special presentation was given to the City Commission on November 19, 2020, where the project design and concept was approved. In addition, the City held 12 community workshops from 2021-2022 to construct living shoreline components. 198 volunteers attended the workshops contributing 495 community volunteer hours to the project. These workshops were advertised on social media, the City’s website, Cocoa Beach Network News and in the Hometown News.
Will there be mangroves along the entire western side of the seawall? No. Mangroves will be placed along approximately 72ft of the 148ft western sea wall. Of the remaining 74ft, a 36ft vista will be planted with low growing spartina grass and the other areas (40ft) will contain no living shoreline components.
Will the mangroves be trimmed to maintain the waterfront view? Yes. The mangroves will be maintained to a height of about 2.5ft above the seawall cap. Mangroves are protected in the state of Florida by the 1996 Mangrove Trimming and Preservation Act and shall only be trimmed as allowed by Florida Department of Environmental Protection Mangrove Trimming Guidelines. Spartina is a low growing grass that will require no trimming, as it not expected to grow above the seawall cap.
Can boaters still utilize the dock at the park? Yes. The living shoreline has been designed to maintain a safe buffer area around the dock to avoid hazards to boaters. Posted waterway signage will notify boaters of submerged reef structures.
How is the City funding this project? This project is fully grant funded. Our funding partners include:
- IRL National Estuary Program
- Tourism Development Council
- Save Our Indian River Lagoon
- St Johns River Water Management District
- Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection
- University of Florida
Why is the City building living shorelines when there are other projects that will help the lagoon? The Brevard County Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan states that 20 miles of restored oyster reef is necessary to make a significant difference in improving water quality in the Indian River Lagoon. The City of Cocoa Beach is doing our part in contributing to creating 20 miles of oyster bar throughout Brevard County with the McNabb Park Living Shoreline project. The City follows guidance from Brevard County and the State of Florida in understanding that there is not one single project type that will restore the lagoon. The City of Cocoa Beach has identified and completed many projects to help the lagoon including:
- Living shorelines
- Rain gardens
- Pervious pavements
- Muck dredging
- Community education
- Upgrades to advanced wastewater treatment processes
- Implementing ordinances such as the fertilizer ban