In an effort to improve water quality and shoreline restoration efforts in Florida's
Panhandle, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is moving the Ecosystem
Restoration staff from the Department's Northwest District Office to the Office of Coastal
and Aquatic Managed Areas. The work previously accomplished by Ecosystem Restoration staff
will continue, with the addition of overseeing the four designated aquatic preserves in
the northwest part of the state including Fort Pickens, St. Andrews, Yellow River and
Ecosystem Restoration staff will continue to work with public and private landowners to
address eroded shorelines, as well as identify the needs of the four aquatic preserves. In
addition to restoring low energy shorelines, the program has an ongoing project in East Bay
(Santa Rosa County), rebuilding 12 acres of oyster reef. Oysters are vital to Florida's waters,
since they are filter feeders they assist in cleaning our waters as they feed. Also, oyster
reefs serve as a habitat for juvenile fish, increasing nursery sites, which support the
commercial and recreation fisheries in our area.
Grant assistance for living shorelines will continue under the transition. A living shoreline
uses natural plantings to attract sand and sediment, holding it in place and slowing erosion.
Over time, living shorelines can rebuild some of the eroded land. The Ecosystem Restoration
team leverages grant funds by establishing partnerships with area conservation groups and
Amy Baldwin, manager of the Ecosystem Restoration program, and her staff restore a 12 acre oyster reef in an on-going program in East Bay near Pensacola.