Conservation groups restoring, protecting Bayou La Batre’s Lightning Point

Conservation groups restoring, protecting Bayou La Batre’s Lightning Point
A rendering of what Bayou La Batre's Lightning Point is expected to look like in 4-5 years after completion of a restoration and preservation project. (contributed)

Work is underway to restore and preserve one of Alabama’s most iconic and important coastal habitats.

A restoration groundbreaking was held Friday on the southernmost tip of Bayou La Batre’s Lighting Point, the hub of Alabama’s fishing and seafood processing industry. During the next 12 months, more than 1 mile of breakwaters and almost 40 acres of coastal wetlands will be rehabilitated and preserved, all thanks to a joint effort between public and private agencies, including The Nature Conservancy, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Alabama Power.

“This project is the result of a tremendous partnership between a range of people who care deeply about the Bayou,” said Roger Mangham, director of The Nature Conservancy in Alabama. “We are honored to work with our friends to help protect and restore one of Alabama’s most iconic places.”

Team effort praised in new restoration project for Bayou La Batre’s Lightning Point from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Congressman Bradley Byrne joined a host of dignitaries to break ground on the project.

“We’re called on to be stewards of the Earth,” Ivey said. “Here in Alabama, I think we have a special opportunity to do that. Preserving our natural beauty is essential to ensure that our children and future generations will have a beautiful state to live and work in.”

“It’s for people who live here in Bayou La Batre and this part of Mobile County,” Byrne said. “I can’t think of a group of people who deserve it more.”

The project will feature 1.5 miles of overlapping, segmented breakwaters along both sides of the navigation channel. The breakers will provide a buffer from waves and boat wakes. The work will include two jetties at the mouth of the channel to help maintain access for all types of vessels, including commercial shrimp boats and recreational bay boats.

“We are excited about the work to be done by The Nature Conservancy at Lightning Point,” said Bayou La Batre Mayor Terry Downey. “The changes to be done at Lightning Point will improve the opportunities for all the citizens of Bayou La Batre.”

The Lightning Point Project will create approximately 40 acres of marsh, tidal creeks and upland habitats that support a wide range of fish, shellfish and birds. Other improvements include walking paths, a lookout point and a low-impact parking lot employing green-infrastructure techniques, such as pervious pavers, bioretention cells and bioswales to aid in stormwater management.

Project construction is expected to begin this summer and take about a year to complete. Once construction is completed, the vegetation will need about five years to completely cover the area between the breakwaters and the current shoreline.

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