Prefabricated artificial reef modules off Destin-Fort Walton Beach coast (📸 Alex Fogg)

$1.26 Million grant awarded for Artificial Reef Construction in Okaloosa County

Prefabricated artificial reef modules off Destin-Fort Walton Beach coast (📸 Alex Fogg)

On Tuesday, January 3, 2022, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners approved the NRDA Artificial Reef Construction grant in the amount of $1,260,000. The funds will be used to create offshore fish and dive reefs through the construction and deployment of prefabricated modules located within the County’s Artificial Reef Permitted Areas.

  • This grant funding originated from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (BP funding) and was issued to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commision for administration and granted to the eight panhandle counties including Okaloosa.
  • Coordination for these funds began in 2019.

According to Okaloosa Coastal Resource Manager Alex Fogg, the grant funds will be used to deploy approximately 400-600 modules, enabling the creation of many new reefs as well as the enhancement of existing habitats such as recent vessel deployments. No County match funds are required for the grant.

Fogg explained that the artificial reef modules range in size from 7-15 feet tall and he aims to deploy the modules over the course of the next year.

  • “The construction of artificial reefs will promote tourism by offering recreational activities such as diving, snorkeling, and fishing,” said Fogg.

The Okaloosa County NRDA Artificial Reef Construction project is part of the Phase III early Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) restoration efforts in Florida. The NRDA process is a procedure used by federal agencies, states, and Indian tribes to evaluate the impacts of oil spills, hazardous waste sites, and ship groundings on natural resources and mitigate for those impacts

The Florida Artificial Reef Creation and Restoration project, which has already taken place offshore of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay counties, aims to provide enhanced or additional long-term recreational opportunities through the construction and restoration of marine habitat, in the form of artificial reefs.

Prefabricated artificial reef modules off Destin-Fort Walton Beach coast (Alex Fogg)

Previous NRDA-funded artificial reef construction projects in these counties have been successful, with 3,605 prefabricated artificial reef modules placed across all five counties, 717 of which were placed in Okaloosa County. 

  • The success of these projects has led to the allocation of additional funds to complete similar projects in Gulf, Franklin, and Wakulla counties.

Fogg says they will be seeking input from the community in the coming months to determine exactly where the modules should be deployed.  

“It could be deep, shallow, solitary or in groups,” said Fogg. “The first round of funding had to be deployed in state waters but these funds can be placed in state OR federal waters.”

6 Responses

  1. Would love to see reefs at depths for junior divers (40 ft depth limit) to take my newly certified children on. There are none in bay county. So we took them to Key Largo to learn. Making the gulf coast a family destination means having dive sites for the whole family.

  2. Is there a list somewhere of the locations of snorkel reefs off the beaches of Destin. I believe there is one located a the Pompano St entrance.

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