A draw for residents and tourists alike, the diverse natural areas of Walton County, including waterways, wetlands and shorelines are especially unique and critically important. In an effort to restore a footprint of 6.71 acres of oyster, saltmarsh, seagrass, dune and coastal dune lake wetland habitat, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida and the Walton County Board of County Commissioners partner to roll out “All Hands on Deck,” an overarching educational campaign. The partnership plans to remedy habitat degradation and provide stewardship in coastal areas of Walton County. “The Choctawhatchee Bay is an important asset to our community. These restoration efforts by the CBA will help with recovery and resiliency efforts for the Bay,” says Commissioner Trey Nick, District 4 Commissioner.
The campaign’s purpose is to create a community of stewardship for local habitats through education, outreach and volunteer opportunities. The education component will directly impact students and adults, familiarizing multi-generations on the unique habitat types that support the native birds, fish, mammals, reptiles and invertebrates that call Walton County home. “This project is an amazing opportunity to improve the estuary ecosystems in the area as well as educate the public on their importance,” says Melinda Gates, Environmental Coordinator, Walton County.
Citizens of all age levels will be invited to learn about local habitats and provide hands-on labor to aid in restoration. The CBA, uniquely placed to carry out this project through a network of community partners and volunteers, hopes to expand their reach and begin building a culture of stewardship for valuable coastal resources, a stewardship that not only addresses the issues of the present, but leads to the continuation of a community of stewards.
All Hands on Deck
“All hands” are needed to care for our natural resources. Learn about upcoming volunteer events by following the CBA on Instagram and signing up for the CBA newsletter on the website basinalliance.org. Citizen groups will encompass K-12 students, college students, snowbird groups, military, and employees from local retails, real estate and corporate groups. Sites chosen for restoration are all public lands.
Future projects include:
• Charles E. Cessna Park
• Walton County-owned Inlet Beach Access
• Alaqua Bayou
• Live Oak Point
• Big Redfish Lake
• Alligator Lake
The Florida Coastal Management Program funded this project with a grant from the NOAA Office for Coastal Management, awarded under the Coastal Zone Management Act with matching funds contributed by the St. Joe Community Foundation. For information about the CBA and its many programs, initiatives and events, visit the CBA website at www.basinalliance.org.