South Walton Artificial Reef Association seeks your voice of public support for this triple pronged WIN-WIN-WIN vision.
South Walton Artificial Reef Association is a newly formed non-profit organization dedicated to constructing artificial reefs in the bay and gulf coastal waters of Walton County, Florida.
Andy McAlexander, founder, shares "The idea for the South Walton Artificial Reef Association came about after attending seminars regarding RESTORE Act and NRDA funds. I started thinking 'what can we do that will benefit our community and environment for generations to come?' I met Dr. Ron Childs, a founding member of MBARA (Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association) who inspired me to start researching artificial reefs around the state of Florida."
A study by the University of Florida shows that the 5 counties of the Northwest Florida region realize above-average benefit-to-cost ratio returns (131 to x) experienced by most coastal communities with nearby artificial reefs. Florida has 2700+ reefs. Of the 600+ artificial reefs in the NW Florida region... Walton County only has FOUR! Bay County has 220+ artificial reefs, Okaloosa County has 181+ artificial reefs, and Walton County has FOUR! The four existing artificial reefs are 3-7 miles offshore. SWARA's vision is for 18 permitted reef patch sites:
* 5 OYSTER BED RESTORATION reefs in Eastern Choctawhatchee Bay.
* 4 SNORKELING reefs straddling the coastal sandbars.
* 9 FISH HABITAT & skin diving reefs located 1/2 - 1 mile offshore.
South Walton County is a unique community with deep commitment to family values and conservation of our surrounding environment. With tourism as the economic engine in Walton County; this is a rare opportunity for Walton County to realize a long-term goal of increasing environmental awareness and sustainability through ecotourism. Artificial reefs will create fish and oyster habitat. In an area where the Gulf bed is 95% barren sand flats, the reefs will also create near shore, family-oriented, recreational activities including human propelled fishing (standup paddleboards and kayaks), skin-diving, and snorkeling attractions. Educational objectives include increased biological awareness and marine research studies.
With seed money from the TDC and permitting agreement from the BCC, the South Walton Artificial Reef Association will begin the 18 month long permitting process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Florida DEP to site and permit 18 artificial reef patches in Walton County coastal waters. The reef patches will have public GPS coordinates.
Please let the Walton County TDC and BCC hear your voice in support of this grass-roots organization's vision. The budget amendment vote is scheduled for May 14. Thank You for voicing your support for this noble initiative that benefits residents, visitors, and marine environment!
For additional understanding of the mission, visit www.mbara.org. The Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association's website. This fine group (founded in 1997) are kindly guiding and mentoring the efforts for Walton County.
Thank You for your support and understanding that "Anonymous" and duplicate signatures can not be counted.
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