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August 20th, 2011 | Author:

The Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)  received a positive response from NOAA on the required section 7 consult for ALL of our Gulf and Sound Side reef area permits.  This means National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA agrees with the biological assessment written by Keith Johnson of Wetland Sciences (our environmental consultant).    The action indicates we have cleared the final large hurdle with the only step left being the creation by the ACOE of the permit conditions.  The conditions basically dictate what we can and can not do within the permit area such as materials allowed, setback distances, etc.    As of August 11th There is currently only one permit ahead of us in that process.  The Marine Sanctuary permit conditions  will be drafted next.  After the conditions are written and approved by the  ACOE, they will be issued to Santa Rosa County.   The final approval is expected without delay once the conditions are written.  These final steps are expected to be complete with permits in hand within six weeks (September).

The Marine Sanctuary Committee is working with Santa Rosa County on finalizing the implementation plan so that process may begin as soon as permits are in hand.

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).