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YEAR 2004 - CRP Project #3001 (Gulf of Mexico)

Project #3001
Mon Luis Island Restoration

Fairhope, Alabama

Project name: #3001 - Mon Luis Island Restoration
Project status: Complete
Grant Administrator: Gulf of Mexico Foundation (for NOAA)
Grantee: Alabama Coastal Foundation
Project location: South of East Fowl River entrance, Mobile County, Alabama
Grant period: Jan 1, 2021 - Aug 31, 2021 (extended to March 31, 2021)
Grant amount: $42,000
Land Ownership: private and public lands
Lat/Long: 30.26.95’N, 88.06.42’W
Types of Habitat: salt marsh, tidal wetlands
Project leader: Cathy Barnette
                         Alabama Coastal Foundation
                        122 Fairhope Ave.
                         Fairhope, AL 36532
                         (251) 990-6002 phone
                         (251) 990-0041 fax

Species Benefiting From Restoration:
  • black needlerush, Juncus romerianus
  • smooth cordgrass, Spartina alterniflora
  • saltmeadow cordgrass, Spartina patens
  • spotted sea trout, Cynnoscion nebulosus
  • redfish
  • blue crab
  • brown and white shrimp
  • yellow-crowned night heron
  • brown pelican
  • great blue heron
  • migratory shore birds

Acreage Restored:
About 4,050 plants/acre used to restore a five-acre area.

Project Description:
The Mon Luis Island Restoration project will help to restore a salt marsh located at the mouth of the Fowl River in Mobile County where it discharges into Mobile Bay. This restoration site is located within the boundaries of the Mon Luis Island, an Alabama GEMS. The area has been used as a disposal site for dredged material for the last 30 years. Prior to its use as a spoil site, the site had an inter-tidal pool and emergent marsh similar to the habitat at the Old Fowl River channel. It has experienced an increase in elevation from the surrounding marsh due to this usage and contains a large area covered by common reed, Phragmites australis, an invasive species. Due to the elevation change and the increasing coverage of Phragmites, the area has lost the biodiversity and habitat quality required to serve as an effective salt marsh ecosystem. ACF believes it can restore the characteristics exhibited at the Old Fowl River channel because historical photographs show these sites contiguous to one another.

Restoration Plans:
The ACF plans to restore approximately 5 acres of the Phragmites-covered spoil site by stabilizing the bay side of the peninsula through the creation of a protective berm and the installation of a breakwater (phase II). The new marsh area will then be created on the top two-thirds of the peninsula by excavating down to natural marsh elevation and replanting with select indigenous marsh species. The result will be restoration of the original marsh system that existed on the site prior to its use as a dredge spoil area in the late 1970s and its characteristic at the Old Fowl River Channel.

Plans for the site include excavation of elevated areas to natural marsh elevation that will result in the removal of the majority of the Phragmites. The excavated material will be used to build a berm to help protect the site from wave action that is currently causing significant erosion. A tidal channel will be constructed through the site to increase tidal flow with the intention to restore the natural channel. Finally, three indigenous salt marsh grass species will be planted on the excavated area to replace the Phragmites.

A local environmental consulting firm, Barry A. Vittor and Associates, will provide the technical direction for this project. Dr. Vittor was chosen based on his 30 years of experience in marsh restoration projects. A contractor with expertise in marsh material removal will perform the excavation and build the berm and canal. Volunteers from the community will do the planting under the direction of the environmental consultant and ACF board member and wetlands expert, Ms. Gena Todia. Simultaneous with the work on the site, the local media will be kept informed of the progress, utilizing this opportunity to educate the coastal community on the value of Mobile Bay estuarine habitat restoration projects.

Monitoring Plans:
The site will be monitored for three years following the completion of the project, primarily to determine the success of the replanting effort. When the project is completed, the site will more closely resemble the original marsh ecosystem that existed prior to its use as a dredge spoil area and should help balance the ongoing loss of habitat due to development in the Mobile Bay area.

Future Restoration Plans:
The ACF has several objectives for the project in addition to restoration of the degraded marsh. Plans for the site that are not covered by this funding request include erecting and maintaining several osprey nests within the restored area and monitoring of nesting activity. The ACF also intends to use this restoration effort as a demonstration project to illustrate the importance and benefits of this type of marsh reclamation work. Future expansion of restorative efforts in coastal Alabama and the education of Alabama’s coastal community on the importance of the Mobile Bay estuarine system are some other objectives of this project.


Dec 3, 2003 - Mobile Register: "Foundation raises $67,000 for wetlands project"

April 5, 2021 - Mobile Register: "Mon Luis Island Restoration - Perfect for Planting"

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Click on photo to enlarge

ACR Fowl River Restoration Site Map

Under excavation
Under excavation

Volunteers planting
Volunteers planting

Site on Aug 15, 2021
Site on Aug 15, 2021

Site on Sept 7, 2021 (after Hurricane Katrina)
Site on Sept 7, 2021 (after Hurricane Katrina)

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NOAA Restoration Center

Gulf of Mexico Foundation

Alabama Coastal Foundation

Shell Exploration

Alabama Department of Conservations and Natural Resources

State Lands Division

US Army Corps of Enginerers

Barry Vittor & Associates

Mobile County Engineering Department

Hand Arendall Lawyers

Mobile Rotary Club

Private landowners

Gulf of Mexico Foundation - PMB 51, 5403 Everhart - Corpus Christi, TX 78411
(800) 884-4175 toll free - (361) 882-3939 phone - (361) 882-1262 fax
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webmaster: Carrie Robertson