Prior to state ownership, the CSI campus site was the location of dredge material deposition from a dredge operation that removed material from nearby Shallowbag Bay. The historic elevations of 3 to 5 feet above sea level were raised up to elevations of 8 to 10 feet in some locations. This recent development activity left the site fairly devoid of vegetation as dredge materials in coastal bays tend toward higher salinity and low nutrient value.
In the years following the dredge material addition, marsh grasses were beginning to succeed in lower elevations at the site. Upland grasses, beach pea, loblolly pine, cedar and wax myrtle were showing up on the higher and dryer elevations. Prior to construction, CSI staff and volunteers executed a plant rescue activity to relocate hundreds of plants that would have been destroyed within the construction footprint.
Site revegetation was achieved post-construction by the use of special seed mixes that had been created for the site. Using a hydro-seeding process, the native grass and flower mixture that was created for the site on Roanoke Island was sprayed on all disturbed areas and along the roadway swales. Three seed mixes were created: upland, mid-slope and lower elevation seed mixes.
Ten stormwater best management practices (BMPs) were created on the site to collect runoff from the Marine Operations Building as well as roads and parking areas. The combined effort of bioretention ponds, created wetlands, level spreaders, swales and polishing fields can treat 100% of the stormwater that falls on the CSI Campus. Each of the stormwater BMPs is planted with native vegetation and provides beauty for visitors as well as important habitat for coastal and migrating species.
The future goal of the CSI Campus is to introduce additional native species to encourage the development of plant communities native to the region. The campus is a place for learning for visitors of all ages and the landscape is destined to become a big part of that learning experience.