Tag Archives: using red mangroves for a stronger seawall

A River Kid Grows Up – Colton Moir

Colton Moir graduated from the Benjamin School in 2018. He is now twenty-one years old and a senior at Eckerd College in St Petersburg, Florida. He is the son of Jim and Kim Moir of Stuart, Florida and was one of the first River Kidz. I had a chance to interview Colton last week as part of my “Grown-Up River Kidz” series.

-Colton pictured with a cubera snapper he speared last summer. “Very tasty haha.”-Colton in 2014, 14 years old -presenting alongside Indian Riverkeeper Marty Baum.  River Kidz’ GET THE MUCK OUT event, Harbor Bay Plaza, Sewall’s Point, FL. Photo credit, Nic Mader.-A bucket of MUCK from the bottom of the St Lucie River. This muck builds up due to polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, the C-Canals, and area runoff. It smothers seagrass as well as sea life, and is often referred to as “black mayonnaise.” As a River Kid, Colton often spoke about issues of muck.-Colton stands directly under the GET THE MUCK OUT sign, River Kidz, 2014 (click to enlarge.)

JTL: “Hi Colton. Long time no talk. It’s been a few years since we last spoke. You’ve grown up since your River Kidz days. Tell me about what you are doing at Eckerd College.”

Colton: “It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I came into it thinking I was going to major in marine science, just because I’ve been around the ocean my whole life. My family is all marine advocates. I’m a huge environmentalist. I assumed I’d be going that route, but I found that chemistry and physics were not my forte, so I’ve switched to business administration with a minor in entrepreneurship. All of the projects I’ve done so far revolve around the environment. Like what I’m doing right now is helping create an oyster farm in Grand Cayman, and trying to get a reef-ball project up and running for every-day homeowners so they can have living, custom-made reef ball creations in front of their homes to enjoy instead of a hardened shoreline seawall.”

JTL: “Wow Colton, that’s fantastic. Creating a business model out of a River Kidz’ participated practice. Let’s talk about these reef-balls. Are they like a living shoreline?”

Colton: “It would be more along the line of a living seawall. The biggest issue I notice with traditional seawalls is the undercutting that waves create- having the reverb effect – once they hit the seawall -over time, you are losing your property line-  you’re losing shoreline, which is what the seawall should be protecting in the first place. I think that a lot of homeowners are noticing this and that in the future they will implement these wonderful things called reef-balls which will not only protect their seawalls from all this erosion, but also help the environment and the fish.”

-Young Colton, father, and volunteers placing reef-balls in St Lucie River, River Kidz, 2014.

JTL: “That is really interesting Colton and right in the line with your River Kidz’ background. Tell me more.”

Colton: “My original idea was to partner with the Marine Resources Council in Melbourne and have every reef -ball contain a red mangrove, but I found out that a lot of homeowners hate red mangroves.”

JTL: “Really? People hate red mangroves? “

Colton: “Yeah. They don’t want to lose their view. They don’t really understand that you can trim mangroves because they have always heard from friends and family that you can’t trim your mangroves, that it’s illegal. It’s not. So one of the things I am finding myself doing, is what River Kidz taught me, and that is to talk to people in small groups to educate and change the knowledge base.”

JTL: “Colton, I remember when you were eleven at the Environmental Studies Center in Stuart and you were literally teaching the adults about muck in the St Lucie River. The adults stood around listening – spellbound.”

Colton: “Yeah, as an only child, I don’t know if I would have developed those skills without River Kidz.”

JTL: “Colton how do you see the difference between your parent’s generation compared to your generation when it comes to the environment?”

Colton: “I would like to think my generation sees the the environment in a little harder light. There is more research that proves the detrimental effects that we as humans, as a species, have done to the planet. However, I think my generation is often more “social-media oriented, whereas you guys really got out there. I myself try to get out there too.  I have done projects with River Kidz, with Tampa Bay Watch, and a bunch of other community groups.”

JTL: “Colton with all the talk about Climate Change do you feel hopeful about the future?”

Colton: “I do. Honestly, conversations like this give me hope. Through conversations I learn about positive change. For instance, I just got out of a lecture about a company that had been doing reef safe sunscreen products. It’s called “Stream to Sea” in Hardy County. When Covid hit, they had to change to make environmentally friendly hand sanitizer. It went from an environmentally-friendly goal for a smaller market, to one that included millions of people. If they hadn’t been doing environmental work in the first place, they couldn’t have achieved what they did. “

JTL: “It seems like change, or adapting, is the name of the game. Colton if you had a message for the next generation of River Kidz, what would it be?”

Colton: “I’d  say get involved. Get more involved within the group. Go to Washington D.C. Go talk in Tallahassee. Go to commission meetings. Now that I’ve grown up a little bit, I know how beneficial it is for an adult to see a young kid talking about muck.”

JTL: “Thank you Colton, it was those River Kidz’ “teachable moments” that made all the difference to invigorating Florida water policy. And you continue to make a difference today! So great to talk with you.”

-Colton planting a red mangrove, 2021-Colton shared this photo of himself with his girlfriend, Kayla, and their dog,  Availability also known as  “Ava.” In spite of challenges, the future is looking bright!