Partners for Environmental Progress (PEP) is proud to announce its addition to The Oyster Trail, Striking A Balance, is in place at Bienville Square in Downtown Mobile. The large fiberglass oyster illustrates PEP’s mission of balancing robust economic development with preserving and restoring the unique natural resources of the Alabama Gulf Coast. Located at the corner of Dauphin and St. Joseph streets, the oyster was beautifully painted by local artist, Kathy Friedline.
Oysters exemplify the inter-dependence between the local environment and the economy. Oysters play a crucial role in the ecological health of Mobile Bay, while at the same time, commercial harvesting of oysters fuels our local economy.
“We named our oyster Striking A Balance because PEP’s members are committed to the idea that industry and a healthy environment can not only co-exist but both can thrive. PEP’s 220 company members employ 22,000 local employees who boat, swim, fish and live along our coastal waters;’ said Executive Director Jennifer Denson. “By applying science-based best environmental practices to business and community issues, we work toward the same purpose – a better Gulf Coast”
The Oyster Trail began in Downtown Mobile during the summer of 2013 with six stops. It quickly spread to 12 downtown locations and then added to south Mobile County with stops in Bayou La Batre and Dauphin Island. By early 2014, The Trail had pushed across the Bay and now there are more than 20 oysters on the Trail with an additional six on the way. You can find Oyster Trail stops in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Spanish Fort, throughout Mobile County and soon in Foley and Fairhope.
The purpose behind the Trail is to educate folks on just how important oysters are to our economy and ecology of Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound. The Trail itself is a scavenger hunt for information that surrounds Mobile Bay. Visitors are guided by Trail Maps that contain questions about oysters. Each stop has a fact plaque which answers the questions and helps visitors to the Trail better understand what oysters do.
Proceeds from the Trail go back into the Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program. Volunteer oyster gardeners raise baby oysters, “spat” for replanting on reefs in and around Mobile Bay. These plantings have helped correct some of the damage caused by storms, predators and other causes. The program is preparing for the 2015 season and hopes to produce enough oysters to restore an additional 2-3 acres of reef. For more information, go to www.theoystertrail.com.