Thanks to the work of many dedicated partners, the Bay Area Resources Council (BARC) transitioned into the Pensacola and Perdido Bays Estuary Program in 2018 after securing a $2 million competitive grant from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Gulf of Mexico Program.
In 2020 our program was awarded $297,220 from the EPA to identify and mediate potential sources and contributors of water-borne trash in three creeks of the Pensacola Bay System: Jones Creek in Escambia County, Carpenter Creek in the City of Pensacola and Pond Creek in northern Santa Rosa County. Water-borne trash is a global issue, with far reaching consequences and impacts; however, the problem starts in local waterways, parking lots and roads. Trash-clogged creeks and streams aren’t just ugly, they pose serious health and safety risks. This project will heavily engage the community in trash removal and prevention, engage local businesses, existing grassroots efforts and area schools to reduce water-borne trash and improve the safety, health and beauty of local creeks.
The program was awarded $500,000 in Florida legislative appropriations to 1) support the development of our CCMP, 2) enhance monitoring in the Pensacola and Perdido bay systems through the establishment of comprehensive monitoring program, and 3) implement water quality improvements, habitat restoration, resilience, citizen science, research, and education and outreach projects of the program and partnering agencies and organizations through the establishment of the PPBEP Mini-Grant Program. We offer our deepest appreciation to Representative Andrade and Senator Broxson for sponsoring the Program’s legislative funding request.
Santa Rosa County, in collaboration with the Pensacola & Perdido Bays Estuary Program, received a National Coastal Resilience grant for $73,910 to develop a living shoreline habitat suitability model and master plan for the Pensacola Bay System. The project will assess approximately 175 miles of shoreline to evaluate land use, water depth, habitat type, wave dynamics, sediment transport, and the presence or absence of hardened coastal infrastructure (i.e. sea walls).
Living shorelines are softer, greener alternatives to stabilize shorelines from erosion, sea level rise, and other damage through the installation of native plants, oyster shells, and other organic materials. They protect and restore natural shoreline habitat, trap sediments, improve water clarity, filter pollutants, provide recreational opportunities, and provide important fish and wildlife habitat. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sally, our communities are seeing the success of existing living shoreline projects over hardened infrastructure such as sea walls. The Pensacola Bay System project will create a model to characterize and prioritize living shoreline opportunities across local government jurisdictions, as a comprehensive coastal resilience strategy.