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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has awarded more than $217,000 in RESTORE grant funding for the Pensacola Bay Living Shoreline Project.

Officials said the funding will support the first phase of planning, engineering, design and permitting of the environmental restoration project, which includes placing 24,800 linear feet of rock and oyster reef breakwater and planting 205 acres of emergent marsh and submerged aquatic vegetation habitat at three sites: one adjacent to White Island in northwestern Pensacola Bay, and the other two on the eastern and southern shores of Pensacola Naval Air Station.

Living shorelines address erosion by providing long-term protection, reducing wave energy and restoring vegetated shoreline habitats through strategic placement of plants, rock and oyster reefs. Living shorelines also stabilize sediment, improve water quality, and enhance habitats for oysters, fish, shrimp, crabs, birds, sea turtles and other estuarine species.

“Investing in projects like this are important to our coastal estuaries,” said Drew Bartlett, DEP deputy secretary for ecosystem restoration. “In addition to providing natural shoreline protection, it also creates habitats necessary for the variety of wildlife in Pensacola Bay, and subsequently the industries that depend on them.”

Funding for the first phase of this project was received through the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council’s Funded Priorities List. The 2012 RESTORE Act provides a vehicle for Clean Water Act civil and administrative penalties from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to be distributed to affected Gulf Coast states.

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