Tag-Archive for » Pensacola Beach «

February 02nd, 2012 | Author:

Santa Rosa County has received and reviewed the final draft Federal Permits from the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE). The county is set to sign the permits and has begun the procurement/deployment process for the beach accessible snorkeling reefs on the Gulf Side of Navarre Beach Park. A final federal (ACOE) permit for the two Sound Side reef sites is expected within the next month. Applications for the required Gulf side and Sound side federal permits were submitted in September of 2009. The federal permit process was expected to take 18 months but has been delayed due to the ACOE activities associated with The Deep Horizon oil spill and associated responses. State permits were granted for both sites in 2009.

The reefs specified in the permit are the Eco System piling mounted disc reefs, a patented design by Walter Marine. If contracting details can be put together within the next two weeks, the reefs could get the go ahead from the Santa Rosa County Board of County Commission (BOCC) as early as February 23rd. The installation process itself will not be long (2-3 days in the Gulf and 3-5 days for the Sound), but a suitable weather window with multiple days of calm seas is critical for the Gulf reef installation. Weather is not as critical for the installation of the Sound side reefs. Depending on the timing of receiving the federal permits for the Sound side reefs and weather conditions, the Sound side reefs may be installed earlier than the Gulf reefs. Historically, the sea state gets calmer as we get into June, but we are hopeful the weather cooperates and the reef installation can proceed as soon as possible.

January 13th, 2012 | Author:

The National Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Phase I Early Restoration plan has been published as a draft and includes eight projects totaling $57 Million to be initially implemented in the 5 states bordering the Gulf Of Mexico. The Early Restoration program will include $1 Billion and is the selected process by which funding for BP Oil Spill damages may begin in advance of the multi year total damage assessment process. The NRDA is one of the government led BP Oil Spill recovery efforts and is associated with the requirement of BP making the public whole from the environmental damages, including loss of natural resources, damage to natural resources and loss of use/enjoyment of the resources.

Two public meetings (Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola) to present and hear comments on the plan have been held and 10 more are scheduled throughout the public comment period that ends February 14th.

Of the eight projects in Phase I draft of the early restoration plan document, two are Florida projects – both in Escambia county. These initial Florida projects total $5 Million with $4.4 Million going for Boat Ramp Enhancement and Construction and the balance funding 2o acres of Dune Restoration along Pensacola beach.

Of the $1 Billion to be paid by BP for early restoration projects, $100 Million will go to each of the five states to manage/implement independently, and $500 million will be for related projects to be managed through the Federal Government’s Department of Interior(DOI) and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The $57 Million of Phase I projects included in the draft plan are the initial set of projects being considered with the balance to follow through the NRDA project selection process.

You may view the plan document at http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Final-ERP-121311-print-version-update.pdf

Comments can be submitted verbally or in writing at any of the public comment meetings, via mail at US Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O> Box 2099, Fairhope, AL 336533 or via the web at one of the following addresses.

http://www.gulfspillrestoration.noaa.gov
http://www.doi.gove/deepwaterhorizon
http:/losco-dhw.com/EarlyRestorationPlanning.aspx
http://www.outdoaralabama.com/nrdaprojects/
http://www.mdeqnrda.com
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/deepwaterhorizon

May 27th, 2011 | Author:

Memorial day weekend is a great time to visit the beach and get some snorkeling in.  Reefs of the same design as those planned for Navarre are already deployed off Pensacola Beach.  This YouTube video provides a view of what the Navarre reefs will look like when deployed.

They are located approximately 1.5 miles east of Portofino Towers on Pensacola beach.  The GPS coordinates for the closest parking lot is  N30.348000,  W87.053787.     The reefs are just to the east of the parking log.  There is a cut in the dunes near the entrance, and you can unload your gear there , then park in the lot.   The reef is marked with a bouy.   There are two poles on the beach which you can use to line yourself up for direction.   The first structure is between the first and second sand bar.

January 17th, 2011 | Author:

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).

October 21st, 2010 | Author:

For years now Escambia and Santa Rosa County visitors and residents alike have asked the question  – Where can we snorkel?  A ready answer may be forthcoming.

Beach accessible snorkeling and diving reefs are in the process of being installed off Pensacola beach and could be in place as early as November 1.  Within the next month the Marine Resources Division of Escambia county should have permit applications for a similar Perdido Key snorkeling reef ready for submission by Escambia county.

To top it off, the state permits for Navarre Beach snorkeling and diving reefs in the Gulf and in Santa Rosa Sound are in hand with the federal permits expected to be issued next year.  In addition, the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary Committee is pursuing a $114,000 grant from the Pensacola Bay Area Impact 100 organization which could fund two of the three sites planned there (1 in the gulf and 1 in he sound).

With the creation of all three sites – a real snorkeling trail will emerge.   This will make not only Navarre, but the Emerald Coast…..Snorkelicious!

September 29th, 2010 | Author:

A new reef project at the east end of Pensacola Beach in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to pay big dividends for the diving and tourist industry devastated by the oil spill.

In the next few weeks crews will drop 19 pairs of artificial reefs offshore just east of Portofino which is expected to bring droves of snorkelers and divers.  Check out the WEAR Channel 3 report on what it means to the area.

The Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary is establishing the same kind of reef system on Navarre Beach in both the Gulf of Mexico and in the Santa Rosa Sound.  Together with a new effort to bring a similar reef system to Perdido Key, we can establish a Snorkeling trail that will provide a great amenity to residents and visitors.

February 23rd, 2010 | Author:

Pensacola area reefing effort is also moving ahead.   Officials are hoping to install three reefs per this Pensacola News Journal Article

From: Kimberly Blair o kblair@pnj.com  on February 11, 2010
Snorkels, masks and fins may soon become as essential to a day on Pensacola Beach as sunscreen and boogie boards.
A proposal to install three near-shore snorkeling reefs is in the works, according to W.A. “Buck” Lee, executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, and Robert Turpin, manager of Escambia’s Marine Resources Division.
One of the reefs would be located a couple hundred feet into the Gulf of Mexico near Park East, east of the Portofino towers. The piling-style reef would be geared for experienced snorkelers
Two pyramid-style reefs would be located in Pensacola Bay near Park West at the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The one closest to shore would be geared for children and novices, and one about 500 feet farther out would be for fishing and diving.
The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.
The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.
The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world – the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.
The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.
Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.
“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”
Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.
“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.
That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.
“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.
His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs. The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.
The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.
The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world – the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.
The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.
Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.
“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”
Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.
“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.
That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.
“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.
His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs.
Snorkelers now mostly hunt shells and sand dollars and, if they’re lucky, catch glimpses of fleeting fish.
Keith Wilkins, Escambia’s deputy chief for neighborhood and community services, said Escambia County bed taxes would pay for the reefs.
An exact dollar amount has not been calculated, but reefs are not expensive, he said.
“A small reef is about $10,000,” he said. “These projects may be a little more.”

Snorkelers could get place to kick their fins

Officials hoping to install three reefs

Kimberly Blair • kblair@pnj.com • February 11, 2010

Snorkels, masks and fins may soon become as essential to a day on Pensacola Beach as sunscreen and boogie boards.

A proposal to install three near-shore snorkeling reefs is in the works, according to W.A. “Buck” Lee, executive director of the Santa Rosa Island Authority, and Robert Turpin, manager of Escambia’s Marine Resources Division.

One of the reefs would be located a couple hundred feet into the Gulf of Mexico near Park East, east of the Portofino towers. The piling-style reef would be geared for experienced snorkelers

Two pyramid-style reefs would be located in Pensacola Bay near Park West at the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The one closest to shore would be geared for children and novices, and one about 500 feet farther out would be for fishing and diving.

The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.

The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.

The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world — the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.

The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.

Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.

“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”

Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.

“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.

That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.

“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.

His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs. The three projects hinge on securing permits from a number of federal agencies, Turpin said.

The biggest hurdle is getting the National Marine Fisheries Service to sign off on the permits because the reefs are proposed in the critical Gulf sturgeon habitat, he said.

The county currently has 198 artificial reefs, including the largest in the world — the decommissioned aircraft carrier Oriskany. But, unlike the three proposed reefs, they’re accessible only by boat.

The goal of the snorkeling reefs is to generate more money for Pensacola Beach by providing tourists with more to do so they extend their vacations, Lee said.

Beverly McCay, general manager of Holiday Inn Express on Pensacola Beach near Park West, said guests often ask where’s the best place to snorkel or beach dive.

“Anything that enhances the vacation experience can extend the tourist’s stay,” McCay said. “Some tourists who come on a weekend may see that there’s so much to do and then decide to come back and spend a week.”

Randy Larcom of Bay Breeze Aquatics & Dive Center in Gulf Breeze said people call on a regular basis looking for snorkeling opportunities.

“Right now about the only place we can send anybody is Fort Pickens, but it’s not the best place to snorkel,” he said of the popular scuba-diving spot.

That’s because snorkelers have to compete with divers and fight strong currents at the mouth of Pensacola Pass, off Fort Pickens.

“Anything that can be made for tourists in shallow enough water would be a big help,” Larcom said.

His business, he said, would benefit by renting snorkeling equipment to people who could enjoy watching a variety of fish, such as snapper, grouper, flounder and trigger fish around the reefs.

Snorkelers now mostly hunt shells and sand dollars and, if they’re lucky, catch glimpses of fleeting fish.

Keith Wilkins, Escambia’s deputy chief for neighborhood and community services, said Escambia County bed taxes would pay for the reefs.

An exact dollar amount has not been calculated, but reefs are not expensive, he said.

“A small reef is about $10,000,” he said. “These projects may be a little more.”