Archive for » August, 2009 «

August 30th, 2009 | Author:

From – Kimberly Blair o kblair@pnj.com o August 26, 2009

The units are the first half of 392 that will create an offshore natural oyster reef breakwater for the island – in the bay west of the Pensacola Bay Bridge, near the Gulf Breeze shoreline. It will be the first of its kind in Florida.  “Baby oysters will attach themselves to the structures. They will be the engineers of the reef,” said project manager Heather Reed with Pensacola’s Ecological Consulting Services Inc. “Using a living reef to protect a shoreline has not been done here before.”   They have been used successfully in Texas and Louisiana, she said.  Hardened structures such as concrete reefs, rocks, mounds of recycled oyster shells and seawalls have been the conventional method of protecting shorelines from erosion, she said.  The Deadman’s Island project will be researched for its effectiveness and, if successful, will be used as a model for future living breakwaters.

The Aug. 20 workers were facing a Aug. 24 deadline to install the units. Next week marks the beginning of the threatened Gulf sturgeon migration, a migration of fish similar to salmon that travel from East Bay through Pensacola Bay to spawn between September and May.   All major marine construction comes to a halt in area waters at this time, Reed said another impetus for the rush was to get the breakwater in place to slow the rapid erosion of the historically and environmentally significant island.  “There’s a strong current running through here,” Reed said on Thursday, pointing to a visible current sweeping sand away from Deadman’s Island as it runs between Escambia and Pensacola bays.  “During Claudette, we lost 13 more marine oak trees to erosion on the north end,” she said of the tropical storm that trailed through the area Aug. 17.  Marine oaks are typically found on barrier islands and are rare in this area. They are among the few remaining plants that help keep the sand in place and the bay from breaching a 10,000-year-old salt marsh.

The Deadman’s Island Restoration project is a $900,000 plan that consists of the seven tasks: the breakwater, shoreline stabilization, wetland creation to cover and protect protruding historic structures, dune restoration, seagrass restoration, bird habitat restoration and a Gulf Sturgeon monitoring station. The station will collect data from the sturgeon that are tagged in October with monitoring devices. Erosion of the island began in the mid-1940s when urban development in the area boomed, Reed said. But the island’s rich history reaches back to the 1800s or earlier. Large sailing vessels once stopped at Deadman’s Island because ships had access to deep water and could be repaired, Reed said. They island also was used as a yellow fever quarantine station.

To help speed the restoration project along, the City of Gulf Breeze recently OK’d Reed buying $29,687 worth of materials, including turbidity curtains and anchors, needed to complete this phase of the project. The city manages the $300,000 in grant money for the breakwater project. “Deadman’s Island is a unique natural feature,” said City Manager Edwin “Buz” Eddy. “Those types of islands existed up and down coast at one time. This is the last one in our area.”  The island, which is actually connected to land on its south end, serves as park, Eddy said. “It’s a property people go to on weekends in the summer for boating and swimming. It’s rare for a city to have a park like that,” he said.  Patricia Moreland has lived on the cliff overlooking the island for 53 years. Her five children used the island as their backyard where they would launch boats and swim. She’s watched it shrink over the years. “I’m so glad their doing something about it,” said Moreland, 82, as she walked her dog along the narrow strip of the island. “I was worried it would wash away.”

WHAT’S NEXT?
Volunteer scuba divers are needed to anchor 154 oyster units underwater. Air for tanks will be donated by Dive Pros dive shop. Divers will be working in about four to five feet of fairly clear water. The project is slated for early September.   To volunteer, call Heather Reed, Deadman’s Island project manager, at 346-2073.  To learn more about Deadman’s Island and the restoration project, visit www.deadmansisland.br33z3.com or www.deadmansisland.br33z3.com.

August 26th, 2009 | Author:

Today (August 26th), the Marine Sanctuary Committee delivered to Santa Rosa County, all the federal and state permit applications and supporting information required for the sound side and gulf side diving and snorkeling reefs they are working to establish at Navarre Beach.

Applications delivered to Santa Rosa County Administrator Hunter Walker

Permit Applications delivered to Santa Rosa County Administrator Hunter Walker

There are six application packages total with one set of three addressed to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and another set of three addressed to the Army Corps of Engineers. The permit application packages are outlined below.

1. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers East Sound Side Reef Application Package
2. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers West Sound Side Reef Application Package
3. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Reef Application Package
4. FL DEP East Sound Side Reef Application Package
5. FL DEP West Sound Side Reef Application Package
6. FL DEP Gulf Reef Application Package

The next step in the process is for the county to sign and deliver the applications to Florida State DEP and Army Corps of Engineers respectively. The Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners passed Resolution 2009-13 on May 14, 2009 which confirmed the Board’s support of the marine sanctuary and their commitment to submit the professionally prepared permit applications delivered to them by the Marine Sanctuary Committee, and hold the resulting permits issued by the federal and state governments. The Sanctuary Committee anticipates the county will submit the applications within the next ten days to two weeks.

The Florida DEP permits are issued under the state’s General Permitting guidelines which are typically issued 30 to 60 days after submission by the county. The Army Corps of Engineers approval/issuance process is estimated to take between eight to fourteen months after submission by the county due to the coordination of the large number of other governmental agencies that typically review and comment on the permit applications.

The completion and submission of the applications is a major milestone for creation of the marine sanctuary. The Sanctuary Committee is pleased to be able to meet this milestone on budget and on time, and looks forward to shepherding the permits through the approval process, and deployment of the diving and snorkeling reefs into the permitted areas of the sound and gulf.

August 19th, 2009 | Author:

The Marine Sanctuary Committee will meet Tuesday, August 25th at 6:30 PM in the Navarre Visitor Center Conference Room (Hwy 98 at the Navarre Beach Bridge).

The public is welcome.

We will continue Run for the Reef 5K planning, preview the Navarre Press produced informational video, and take public questions and comments on the recently completed Reef Permit Applications.

Please enter through the sound side (rear) entrance.

Minutes of this meeting available here.

August 14th, 2009 | Author:

Below is a link to a graphic depicting the location of each (Gulf, East Sound and West Sound) of the reef areas to be permitted.

Reef Location Graphic

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Florida Department of Environmental Protection permit application files are too large to load/access from our website. If you would like to view the .pdf versions of these files please email navbms@navarrebeachmarinesanctuary.com and request a copy of one or more of the following files and they will be emailed to you.

Corps Application Package (East Sound Side Reef).pdf

Corps Application Package (West Sound Side Reef).pdf

Corps Application Package (Gulf Reef).pdf

DEP Application Package (East Sound Side Reef).pdf

DEP Application Package (West Sound Side Reef).pdf

DEP application package (Gulf Reef).pdf

August 14th, 2009 | Author:

Fundraising:

    Run for the Reef 5K – October 10th

Our sponsorship dance card is filling up – We have six silver sponsors and four bronze sponsors along with our major sponsor (The Navarre Press). If you would like to be a bronze sponsor for a $100 donation and get your name or your businesses name on the back of the inaugural race t-shirt you can sign up here. We’d like to get all the sponsors confirmed by the end of August so we can firm up the T-Shirt design.

Thanks to the following folks that have stepped forward to make our fall run a success

Race Director – Jeff Harris
Registration Coordinator – Nancy Sandler
Course Director – Tony Giangiulio
T-Shirt/Amenities/Awards Coordinator – Andy Epstein
Race Day Merchandising (Kiss The Fish/T-Shirt Sales) – Claudia Kremer

The Race Committee sill needs a few more volunteers in the following areas:
1. Post-Race Refreshments Coordinator
2. Results Coordinator
3. Finish Line Coordinator
4. Start Line Coordinator
5. Aid Station Coordinator

No experience is necessary. This is a great way to get involved and informed about the Marine Sanctuary and the help Make Navarre Snorkelicious. Also – you don’t have to be one of the coordinators to help out on race day. If you can help with setup, breakdown, course monitoring or a myriad of other things we’ll need to do your efforts will be appreciated.

Email Mark Griffith at navbms@navarrebeachmarinesanctuary.com or call at 850-677-1875 to volunteer.

    Impact100 Grant

We had a great site visit and have answered all the follow up questions from the environmental focus group. (There are five focus groups – one grant of $108,000 is issued in each focus group). The Impact 100 committee(s) will meet again to discuss and analyze the grant applications and information from the site visits. We will know where we stand in the competition for the environmental category by September 16th. The grants will be awarded in October. Think good thoughts….we are hoping to use the grant for funding the sound side reefs.

Permitting:

Our environmental consultant has completed work on all the permit applications and they are ready for the county’s signature and official submission. We will post the permit information here on our website this weekend and the public is invited to comment on them at our next monthly meeting (August 25th). Immediately after the August 25th meeting we will deliver to the County Administrator the permit applications (along with a summary of the comments from our meeting). We believe the county will officially submit them within a couple of weeks of receiving them.

Community Awareness:

The Navarre Press promotional video about the Marine Sanctuary should be complete today. We plan to publish it on our website and on YouTube. We can also use it to display at any community events or festivals or to aide presentations to the many area civic groups.

We are currently scheduled to present information about the Marine Sanctuary and our efforts to the following groups:

NBLRA – Saturday Aug 15 – 10 AM
Chamber Coffee and Commerce – Friday August 28th – 7:30 AM
Hurlburt Dive Club – Thursday September 3rd – 6 PM
Navarre Rotary Club – Thursday Sep 17th – Noon
Pensacola Rotary Club – Tuesday Sep 29th – Noon

Next monthly meeting – Tuesday, August 25th – Navarre Visitor Center Conference Room (enter through rear sound side door please).

August 03rd, 2009 | Author:

From the Miami Herald:

Federal stimulus money is paying for more than roads and bridges during this economic downturn. Ecological projects are part of the mix — and that bodes well for Florida. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received $167 million in February from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Florida will get a fair share of that money.

The scope of the projects is reminiscent of work the Conservation Corps completed to stimulate the economy by creating jobs during the Great Depression. Those ”make-work” projects had lasting value. Go to our national parks to witness the results of the Conservation Corps’ work. They are a reminder of how integral our natural resources are to our economy and our social fabric.  They’re also an example of how something good can come out of hard times. So it should be with today’s stimulus dollars.

Coral reefs along the state’s southern coast and the U.S. Virgin Islands will get $3.3 million to expand four existing nurseries of staghorn and elkhorn coral and establish two new coral nurseries. In the next three years some 12,000 corals will be grown to expand reef populations in degraded areas from the Dry Tortugas to waters off Broward County. The stimulus money will pay for 57 jobs needed for the work. The nonprofit Nature Conservancy will oversee the projects.  Staghorn and elkhorn reefs in the Keys can offer stunning views for divers and snorkelers — and serve as sheltering nurseries for food. But they have suffered coral bleaching as the ocean warms up. Coral diseases, hurricane damage and ship groundings also take their toll.  So the two corals have been designated national threatened species. When growing conditions are optimal, however, the two species grow relatively quickly, four or more inches a year.

Florida got three other stimulus-funded NOAA projects. The Indian River Lagoon’s oyster beds will be restored with $4 million. This will contribute to the overall Everglades restoration plan. The Northeastern Florida Wetlands Restoration project will get $2.7 million to remove dredged soil to restore 1,000 acres of tidal wetlands and coastal marsh around Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral.  The Lost River Preserve will use $750,000 to restore 43 acres of fishing habitat near Tampa Bay.  Using stimulus dollars to conserve resources that generate millions of tourist dollars also contributes to our food and water supplies and generates jobs. It’s a sound investment for Florida’s future.