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The Nature Conservancy’s Joseph Schmidt envisions a future for the Lake Worth Lagoon. In it, American oystercatchers forage the shoreline, mangroves and oysters filter pollution, and kayaks glide from restored island to restored island. In turn, those islands help protect human development.

This vision is one step closer to reality with the completion of the the Palm Beach Resilient Island Project, which rebuilt an eroded island in West Palm Beach with green infrastructure such as oyster beds and mangroves in lieu of seawalls.

The hope is that the island will both protect nearby shoreline by softening the brunt of storm surge, while also buttressing marine habitat: Nesting sites attract shorebirds while mangroves and oysters cleanse polluted waters and create habitats for shrimp, snook, mangrove snapper and even juvenile grouper.

The project is spearheaded by Schmidt, the interim climate strategy director at the Florida chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management. It marks the latest effort to strengthen the county’s shorelines against climate change.

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