Marine sanctuary closer to reality

Here is where you find information and discussion about the proposed Navarre Beach Snorkeling & Diving Reef.
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Kayak Dave
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Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:22 am

Written by
Louis Cooper PNJ April 13

A Santa Rosa County reef project will become as popular a destination as the sunken USS Oriskany, organizers predict.

Santa Rosa County Commissioners today are expected to approve using $75,000 in recreation fund money toward the project. That will be added to the $75,000 in county tourism taxes already set aside for the project.

Mike Sandler, a member of the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary Committee, told commissioners earlier this week that the final permit for the three underwater reefs included as the first two phases of the sanctuary could be in hand as soon as June.

That permit is expected to be released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The state Department of Environmental Protection has already signed off on the project.

On Monday, Sandler said the Navarre reefs would draw from the audience of divers who dive the Oriskany.

"People come down here and spend thousands of dollars to go diving on the Oriskany," said Sandler, the former chief diver for the Air Force special operations command. "They stay at hotels, they eat at restaurants, the get rental cars ... and spend money right here. Most of those divers would easily take advantage of additional diving."

The first two phases of the sanctuary will include three areas of reefs, two in the sound and one in the gulf, both near Navarre Beach Park. The sound reefs are phase one, while the Gulf reef is phase two. A third phase will include an observation pier, but that phase is not yet funded or permitted.

The reefs will consist of large configurations of column-like structures intended to attract sea life. The largest reef will be a collection of the structures about the size of a football field in a deep area of the sound.

"Think of this as a fish nursery," Sandler said. "On most reefs, you'll see very large grouper and snapper coming and feeding off the small fish and the organisms that grow on the reef structure."
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Sun Jul 31, 2011 12:54 pm

any idea when this will happen?
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Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:09 am

Was told - as soon at the Corps of Engineers signs off.
(bureaucracy - they probably were tied up with planning government shut down stuff due to the debt limit mess? - maybe they can get back to work?)
Cheers, Pete
Go Vikings!
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