Artificial reefs a priority in Walton County

Maurizio Carta / Stock.xchng
Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 04:48 PM.

It's been three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill first gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, and even though it's no longer making headline news, Gulf Coast officials are still scrambling to restore and prevent damage to the land and sea.

On May 2, Gov. Rick Scott announced Walton County 's inclusion in the list of Florida early restoration projects proposed by the Trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).

While details have yet to be cemented, Walton County is slated to be a part of artificial reef restoration as well as scallop enhancement.

This is good news for divers and fisherman, as the artificial reefs provide habitat and shelter for fish and eventually builds up an ecosystem.

"We don't know if it'll be partially or fully funded yet," said Billy McKee, environmental manager with Walton County Public Works.

McKee said the county is looking at constructing artificial reefs offshore within a nine-mile radius where they will be of use to people. Beyond that is state waters. The need for the reefs is surprisingly dire, McKee explained.

"If you look along the coastline of the county, ours looks like a giant void in between Bay and Okaloosa counties," he said.

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