Reports from the recent Escambia Marine Advisory Committee meeting indicates the gulf side snorkeling reef permits have been amended to allow shorter pilings (the same length planned for the Navarre site). This clears the way for the deployment of the eco system reefs off of Pensacola beach near Portofino towers. It is welcome news for the Navarre Beach reef effort since the design of the reef structures is identical to those planned for Pensacola Beach. Tests from the piling manufacturer that showed the shorter pilings are actually stronger than the originally planned longer pilings were instrumental in the decision.
Also at the meeting, it was noted that Escambia county is proceeding with reef permits for the same type of reefs at Perdido Key. With Perdido Key, Pensacola Beach, and Navarre Beach all having beach accessible snorkeling and diving reefs a Snorkeling Trail is a real possibility and looks to be within our grasp.
According Keith Johnson of Wetland Sciences, the environmental consultant for the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary Committee the federal permits for the Navarre reef sites are working their way through the process. A realistic projected date for having the permits in hand is June 2011. Construction and deployment of the reefs and the planned informational kiosk type signs is expected to cost between $160k and $200K. The Marine Sanctuary Committee is raising funds for the effort and plans to rollout a reef sponsorship campaign this spring. Also several grants have been and continued to be pursued to fund the project.
To find out more about the physical and financial progress of the project come to the monthly committee meeting January 31st at 6 PM in the conference room of the Navarre Visitor Information Center (Hwy 98 at the Navarre Beach Bridge).