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Community Science Salt Marsh Restoration and Monitoring Project

About the Project

The Community Science Salt Marsh Restoration and Monitoring Project engages communities to support habitat resiliency and ecosystem services throughout the urbanized watershed in Charleston County, S.C. Volunteers participate in salt marsh restoration by creating oyster reefs and cultivating and transplanting smooth cordgrass (Sporobolus alterniflorus, formerly Spartina alterniflora). Volunteers become trained community scientists in data collection methods, including use of the Anecdata© web-based and smartphone app. Through Anecdata©, community members can record, view, and access salt marsh restoration data, such as the number of Sporobolus seeds collected or number of plants transplanted. Long-term monitoring of the restoration sites is also conducted by community scientists.

The project expands upon the Consortium’s From Seeds to Shoreline® (S2S) program model, which engages K-12 students and teachers in cultivating and transplanting Sporobolus alterniflora, to include adult volunteers from local Charleston-area communities.

Collaborators

This project is a three-year initiative (2019 – 2022) supported through a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) grant awarded to the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Partners on this project include the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium (Consortium), South Carolina Aquarium, and Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

Project Progress

In the winter of 2020, volunteers collected almost 800,000 Sporobolus seeds from local Charleston salt marshes. Volunteers then planted these seeds in the early spring of 2021. These seedlings sprout in greenhouses to mature into strong plants to then be transplanted into the salt marsh. Volunteers planted over 16,000 Sporobolus plants at five designated salt marsh restoration sites all over Charleston County. In the early fall of 2021, volunteers practiced community science by revisiting the restoration sites to monitor and collect data on the Sporoblus planted a few months prior. Overall, we have had over 200 volunteers participate in this project!

Learn More About the Salt Marsh Ecosystem

Clemson University, in partnership with the SCDNR and Consortium, developed this self-paced, online course for volunteers and residents to learn about the salt marsh. There is no charge to complete the course. There is no charge to complete the course.

Turn of River restoration planting event. Taken by Amanda Voges (Volunteer).

Turn of River monitoring event. Taken by Amanda Namsinh, S.C. Sea Grant Consortium.

Folly River Boat Landing restoration planting event. Taken by Mike Ledford from College of Charleston.