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This Town Is Using Leftover Shells From Local Restaurants To Make A 'Living Barrier Reef'

By Marissa Higgins

In Hempstead, Long Island, environmental activists are working alongside local officials to put restaurant scraps to a good and innovative use. They're collecting leftover shells from roughly a dozen local restaurants. As Lara Korte from the Wall Street Journal reports, they brought mesh bags filled with thousands of clam and oyster shells to the bay off of Lido Beach this past Thursday. But why?

Their plan is to use these shells to build a "living" barrier reef. The hope is that these shells will form a sturdy barrier reef. The area's natural barrier reef has degraded over the last century, so building a reinforcement is increasingly necessary. 

How will this actually work? Members of the town's Department of Conservation and Waterways first put live oysters on the reef. The idea is that they will latch onto the discarded oyster shells. In the long-term, the hope is that oysters and shells fully integrate with what is there naturally. Ultimately, this is what creates a defense against storms hitting their coast.