Friends of South Newport River Inc. recently announced the opening of a shell-recycling center at Old Route 17 on the South Newport River at the Liberty/McIntosh counties border. The center is at the boat ramp off U.S. 17, just south of Exit 67 on Interstate 95.
The center was established through donations and a coastal incentive grant to McIntosh County by the Coastal Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources. The center is part of a larger project to build a floating dock at the boat-ramp site and protect the shoreline with a new oyster reef and marsh-grass habitat.
New oyster reefs will be created by recycling mainly oyster shells, but clam and scallop shells may be included. Shells are collected from local restaurants and private roasts within a 20-mile radius. The South Newport center is the only such site between Richmond Hill and the Champney River south of Darien.
After a minimum 60-day period in which the shells are cured to rid them of pathogens, meat and potential hitchhikers, volunteers will shovel the shells into black, mesh bags. Installation of bagged shells will be timed for optimal larvae attraction, which means oyster reefs will be placed in May and September and when necessary on a platform of wooden pallets to keep them from sinking into the mud.
The shell-recycling portion of the project is under the supervision of the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension Service for community-based oyster restoration activities called G.E.O.R.G.I.A. (Generating Enhanced Oyster Reefs in Georgia’s Inshore Areas). The program seeks to enhance stewardship and public awareness of the importance of the oyster-reef habitat along the Georgia coast.
The community enhancement project is sponsored by the McIntosh County Board of Commissioners and has received support from the Liberty County Commission, the Riceboro City Council, and the Coastal Regional Commission, among many others. Everyone is encouraged to bring shells for recycling (no trash, please).