With 53 miles of beautiful shoreline, coastal Alabama can be a rewarding location to invest in a floating dock for your property. Unfortunately, the Alabama coastline is synonymous with the oil spill that occurred in 2010 and the negative impact it had on the environment.
While you are considering investing in your boat dock, take the time to think about how you can also invest in Alabama's environment. You can do your part to further protect her beautiful shores and marine life as you plan and build your dock.
Pay Attention to Dock Placement Along the Shore
Your property may be situated on the shore where vegetation is present. If so, the footprint of your structure should be as minimal as possible to avoid harming that vegetation. Those shoreline plants are important because:
- Fish and other wildlife need this vegetation as a source of food and as a place to live.
- Coastal plants help create cleaner water by absorbing pollutants from that water.
- The roots of plant life delve deep into the ground, helping anchor the soil in place to prevent erosion.
If you must remove some plants, try to maintain a buffer area of undisturbed vegetation. By keeping the footprint of your structure to a minimum and resisting the temptation to completely remove all existing plants, you allow that vegetation to remain and perform its valuable service.
Choose an Environmentally Appropriate Dock Plan
With so many dock plans to choose from, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. You can easily narrow your choices by considering a plan that is environmentally appropriate. This means picking a style that does not overly shade any vegetation growing along its length.
To allow enough sunlight to reach aquatic and land vegetation, your dock should be elevated sufficiently above the mean high water. This is the combined average of all high water heights over several years and can vary according to coastline orientation.
The narrower a dock, the better it is for surrounding plants. A width between 3 and 4 feet allows for safe pedestrian access while still cutting back on dock footprint size. Also, space the planks so that sunlight can filter to plants below but not so far apart that walking is unsafe. Baldwin County recommends aiming for no less than 0.75 inches between boards.
Accessorize Using the Right Lighting
If you plan to add lighting fixtures to your boat dock, keep the following items in mind. First, verify whether your property lights may be visible from the beach and subject to any kind of wildlife lighting ordinance. Such ordinances exist to minimize light disturbances to wildlife like sea turtles and their hatchlings.
Keep the following in mind in regards to your dock lighting:
- Mount lights as low to the ground as possible.
- Use shields on all light bulbs.
- Install bulbs using a long wavelength, which are more turtle-friendly.
Another way to keep lights from being visible from the beach is to place barriers like trees or fences between the light source and the shore.
Watch What You Use for Maintenance Cleaning
Part of caring for your dock involves regular maintenance and cleaning. Remember that whatever chemical you use for cleaning purposes always ends up in the water. Chlorine-based cleaners will kill organisms vital to other wildlife, upsetting the natural food chain.
Instead, reach for a pressure-washer and an oxygen bleach-based cleaner. This kind of cleaner will break down into soda ash, oxygen, and water, which are more environmentally friendly when they enter the water.
For more information on designing and installing an environmentally friendly floating dock, call the experts at Edgewater Marine Construction, Inc. They can guide you in the right direction.