Artificial reefs a priority in Walton County

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 at 04:48 PM.

Since full extent of the oil spill's damage cannot be determined, the NRDA Early Restoration projects concentrate on restoring natural resources and preventing further damage.

"It's a long-term process," McKee said of the restoration. "Damage could manifest years from now. For example, a few years from now you might see the fish population declining."

This is third phase of the NRDA Early Restoration Projects. In predicting the need for these projects BP has allocated $100 million to the state of Florida , which was distributed in increments. During this phase, Florida will receive $58 million. The proposed cost of artificial reefs in Walton County is $2 million.

Funds are under the control of BP. Any early restoration projects have to be submitted to a state trustee, who then passes it along to the Trustees of the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment.

Besides the artificial reefs, the county has submitted 12 projects for consideration including: a fishing pier, boardwalks and dune crossovers, a marine fish hatchery and research center and water quality monitoring and restoration of 15 coastal dune lakes and Choctawhatchee Bay. The proposal was submitted over two years ago and can be updated at any time.

"We'd like to them all happen," McKee said of the projects. "But it's important we get them out there. This is going to be going on for years."


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