Local representatives forming estuary program policy board

Bay County

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — A policy board is coming together for the St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program.

It’s in partnership with FSU-Panama City, and university leaders are calling this project “critically important for Bay County.”

“It really is about what can we do to balance out, to protect our waterways,” said Bay County Commissioner Doug Moore, who was appointed to the policy board from the Bay County Commission alongside Bill Dozier on Tuesday. They’ll be serving with 19 others, all representing different communities throughout Bay and Gulf Counties, as well as agency representatives.

“They’re going to make critical decisions,” said FSU-PC Associate Dean, Dr. Irvin Clark. “Protecting our watersheds are critical and we need representation from our elected officials to make sure we’re making the right decisions.”

The board will be working to address over 35 key watershed challenges that were identified through more than 80 stakeholder interviews. Those challenges include stormwater and flooding concerns, wastewater issues, and habitat and preservation concerns.

“The goal and the focus needs to be of making sure that we’re taking proactive steps of ensuring that we’re protecting our community, protecting this resource,” Moore said.

“All of those things plays into that our watersheds will be around for many, many, many years to come,” said Dr. Clark.

The program’s main goal is to have a comprehensive action plan by 2023 to help preserve the watershed. They’ll be hiring an executive director to lead the team in the near future.

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