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Since 1994, the Ecosystem Restoration Section (ERS) of the Office of Coastal Aquatic and Managed Areas has been working to restore coastal habitats throughout the Florida panhandle by creating, restoring and enhancing coastal dune systems, oyster reefs, salt marsh, and submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV). Funding for these activities is provided almost entirely through competitive grants obtained from agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, the Florida Coastal Management Program and the Northwest Florida Water Management District. In addition to external cash funding, ERS projects receive substantial assistance from local agencies, businesses and individuals in the form of in-kind and volunteer services.

ERS operates a seagrass laboratory where local stocks of Ruppia maritima (widgeon grass) are propagated using a micro-culture technique and reintroduced into the environment for restoration of local seagrass beds; planting areas can be seen during low tide at Project GreenShores in Pensacola Bay. In conjunction with the seagrass laboratory, ERS maintains a seagrass salvage program whereby seagrass that will be impacted from marine construction projects (e.g. docks, pilings, bridges, piers) is removed and transplanted into areas in need of restoration. To date, the micro-propagation laboratory has produced and planted 31,435 propagules of R. maritima within the Pensacola Bay System. The salvage program has transplanted 911 seagrass plugs from 36 marine construction projects and has transplanted these into 19 sites throughout the Florida panhandle.

The ERS Oyster Restoration program (Offer Your Shell To Enhance Restoration; OYSTER), utilizes recycled oyster shell, donated by partner restaurants/seafood suppliers, to restore/create oyster reefs in the Pensacola Bay System. Recycling oyster shell reduces the input of valuable shell into local landfills and utilizes the resource to restore critical oyster habitat. To date the OYSTER program has recycled 173 tons/6,275 bushels from 28 partner restaurants which have built 11 reefs throughout the Florida panhandle.

An essential component to all ERS programs is the promotion of environmental stewardship through environmental education and outreach. Involvement in local community events such as Bay Day, Earth Day and Seagrass Awareness help us reach a diverse audience. We provide free educational shoreline tours of the community-based habitat restoration/creation effort ‘Project GreenShores’ in Pensacola Bay. We welcome volunteer participation in all of our restoration activities. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the Ecosystem Restoration Section, please contact Beth Fugate .

The Ecosystem Restoration Program would like to recognize the following partners.
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Last updated: June 24, 2015

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