On Tuesday, the Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners approved $437,500 in funding through a RESTORE Act subaward to the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Coalition.
The money will be used for supporting consultant services to draft a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan by the Estuary Program.
- The plan will describe projects and how they should be implemented to restore and protect the integrity of the waterways in Northwest Florida.
Okaloosa County is a member of this Coalition that includes Walton, Holmes and Washington Counties to target water quality, habitat, and natural resources improvements within the Choctawhatchee Bay and its watershed.
“Our waterways and estuaries are our treasure to maintain for future generations,” said Okaloosa Board of County Commissioners Chairman Carolyn Ketchel. “This grant is critical to protect our estuaries for Northwest Florida.”
The Coalition was established in 2017 and is made up of a Board of Directors that includes:
- A County Commissioner from each of the four counties
- Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance rep
- The Choctawhatchee, Pea and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority
- Eglin Air Force Base as an ex officio member
“Obviously the health of our water bodies is important to everybody,” said Commissioner Nathan Boyles after the meeting. “Okaloosa County is somewhat unique in that most of the watershed for Choctawhatchee Bay is not actually in Okaloosa County as it actually drains off to other counties and to other water bodies.”
- “We’re standing up a really good program that will build off some of the work that’s already been done by the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance and help us make good decisions about keeping our water bodies unpolluted,” he continued.
To gain additional input and guide the development of the CCMP, the Estuary Program has teamed up with the University of West Florida to launch a Community Survey. The survey is available at myokaloosa.com/cbec/public_participation.html.