Partners for Environmental Progress and The University of South Alabama Announce Partnership with The Eagle Reef

Partners for Environmental Progress (PEP) and the University of South Alabama Stokes School of Marine and Environmental Sciences (SSoMES) are partnering with The Eagle Reef, an Eagle Scout project initiated by John Shell of Troop 147 in Mobile, Alabama. The Eagle Reef Project provides preassembled mini reefs that will be used as an eco-friendly solution to restore and revitalize marine and coastal ecosystems across Coastal Alabama. Shell’s inspiration for the project stems from the loss of natural oyster and grass beds, which is contributing to the reduction of numerous fish species and habitats.

“I am very excited and humbled about the success of The Eagle Reef,” shared Eagle Scout John Shell. “My takeaway from all of this is that big things don’t always have to come from big places. If you have a genuine idea you believe in, people will rally behind you. The great thing about this project is the homeowner that puts the reef under their wharf wins, because gamefish come to their wharf for the baitfish, and our coastal waters and marine life win because there are more fish habitats and oysters cleaning the water. Not to mention, everyone who uses our resources and water wins because the water is cleaner and generates more marine life.”

The project has gained widespread attention, providing an opportunity for state leaders and elected officials to discuss solutions for cleaning up Alabama’s coastal waters and revitalizing marine ecosystems.

“Water quality improvement in Mobile Bay has been an area of focus since I was appointed ADCNR commissioner in 2017. This project will be a great complement to the other oyster restoration and water quality improvement initiatives we have underway in Coastal Alabama,” Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Commissioner Chris Blankenship shared. “On a personal note, as the father of an Eagle Scout, I am glad to see John’s Eagle Scout project scale up to something that can make a real difference. It shows the value of the scouting program and the contribution that scouts make to our country every day.”

Shell’s initial goal was to deploy 50 reefs. With an overwhelming response, he quickly raised more than $52,000 and deployed 175 reefs. The project’s success caught regional recognition and Shell was approached by PEP, who awarded him with their Environmental Partner of the Year award in 2022. In addition, PEP and The University of South Alabama SSoMES became involved, helping Shell transition the project and give it additional momentum.

“We are very proud to partner with John and South Alabama to rally the business and industrial community around the inspiring effort to help reestablish habitats, increase our marine life populations and improve the water quality of Mobile Bay,” PEP Gulf Coast Environmental Foundation’s President Tom Bramlett stated. “Partnering with The Eagle Reef was an easy decision. PEP has been advocating for environmental stewardship and best practices, but we now have an opportunity to actively improve the quality of our waters and fisheries.”

PEP and The University of South Alabama SSoMES are expanding the project to deploy 1,000 reefs, which will filter up to 10 billion gallons of water annually and create habitats for up to 500,000 fish and crabs per year in Alabama’s coastal waters. The University of South Alabama will assist in location identification, deployment, stocking, maintaining and monitoring the reefs for the project in addition to testing the waters surrounding them.

“The University of South Alabama is committed to helping restore our coastal resources and is very excited to partner with the Alabama Marine Resources, Partners for Environmental Progress, John and The Eagle Reef to achieve this goal,” said Jo Bonner, University of South Alabama president. “Partnering with the industry is a major goal of SSoMES – it provides an incredible opportunity for our students to gain invaluable experiences and provide for career development and jobs. We hope that this is just one of many projects that we can partner with PEP on.”

The reefs will be installed under the wharfs and docks of private individuals, marinas, restaurants and other structures in Mobile and Baldwin counties. Each reef can filter up to 30,000 gallons of water per day and 10 million gallons annually.

The next phase of The Eagle Reef project is expected to be completed in 2024. Reefs are available for businesses, nonprofits and individuals to purchase, or they may be adopted through donations. For more information on how to get involved or make a tax-deductible donation, visit

About Partners for Environmental Progress Gulf Coast Environmental Foundation

PEP Gulf Coast Environmental Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to engaging businesses in creating and supporting innovative programs and projects along the Gulf Coast that demonstrate best environmental practices to enhance the natural resources that make our area a unique and desirable place to live, work and raise a family.

PEP is a coalition of business and education leaders along the Gulf Coast who share the vision of applying science-based environmental best practices to business and community issues. PEP’s mission is to improve the quality of life along the northern Gulf Coast by prioritizing science- based environmentally sustainable practices through common sense education and advocacy. Our 200 member companies, employing more than 22,000 local individuals, represent manufacturing, shipbuilding, aerospace and the variety of suppliers and providers that serve them.

About the University of South Alabama Stokes School of Marine and Environmental Sciences

The University of South Alabama has a history of investment in marine sciences education and
research, supporting a faculty of renowned experts in a range of marine-related disciplines. The
Stokes School of Marine and Environmental Sciences within the College of Arts and Sciences is
designed to address pressing environmental concerns of the coastal regions. The school trains
the next generation of marine and environmental scientists, conducts cutting-edge research
and extends the impact of this training and research through service activities.

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