Estuary Program - St. Andrew / St. Joe Bays

Latest Estuary Program News

March 23, 2021

The St. Andrew & St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program is conducting a search for the program’s Executive Director.  The position description can be found at Careers (fsu.edu) under Job ID 48619.  

The second meeting of the Policy Board of the Estuary Program will be Friday, March 26, from 1-3:30 pm CT.  The meeting can be viewed online at https://fsu-hipaa.zoom.us/j/91057685524 or join by phone at 929.205.6099, Meeting ID: 910 5768 5524.  There will be an opportunity for public comment during the meeting.  The agenda is attached.  Supporting materials will be posted soon at https://pc.fsu.edu/estuaryprogram/meetings.  The meeting agenda includes a review of the roles of the Management Council, Advisory Committees, and At-Large participants.  The Executive Director search will be discussed.

At its first meeting, the Policy Board of the St. Andrew & St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program approved establishment and advertisement by FSU of the Director position for the Estuary Program.  

Information on the Estuary Program can be found at its FSU host web page, https://pc.fsu.edu/estuaryprogram, and additional meeting materials are posted at https://pc.fsu.edu/estuaryprogram/meetings.   The SASJBEP is funded by a grant from The Nature Conservancy and through the Bay County Board of County Commissioners’ commitment of RESTORE Act Direct Component (Pot 1) funds.  Florida State University Panama City is the host of the program.


February 23, 2021

It’s been a while since the last update for the St. Andrew/St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program, but a lot has been going on behind the scenes.  The first meeting of the Policy Board of the Estuary Program will be Thursday, February 25, from 1-4 pm CT and can be viewed online at https://fsu.zoom.us/j/93294759378, or join by phone at 646-558-8656, Meeting ID: 932 9475 9378.  There will be an opportunity for public comment during the meeting.  The agenda and list of Policy Board members are attached. 

Information on the Estuary Program can be found at its web page, https://pc.fsu.edu/estuaryprogram, and additional meeting materials are posted at https://pc.fsu.edu/estuaryprogram/meetings.   The SASJBEP is funded by a grant from The Nature Conservancy and through the Bay County Board of County Commissioners’ commitment of RESTORE Act Direct Component (Pot 1) funds. Florida State University Panama City is the host of the program.

The St. Andrew/St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program (SASJBEP) is the third estuary program in the Florida Panhandle.  With the Choctawhatchee Bay and Pensacola/Perdido Bays estuary programs, the three programs cover the area from St. Joseph Bay to Perdido Bay.  In addition to identifying and addressing issues in the separate watersheds, the Panhandle Estuary Programs will work together to tackle problems at the regional scale.

If you would like to subscribe to Bay County’s RESTORE Act interested parties list, send an email to jmuller@baycountyfl.gov with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.  If you would like to subscribe to Bay County’s Estuary Program email list, send an email to BayEstuaryProgram@baycountyfl.gov with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.


May 28, 2020

At its May 19, 2020 meeting, the Bay County Board of County Commissioners approved three items directly tied to the establishment of the St. Andrew/St. Joe Bays Estuary Program.  The Board approved an agreement with The Nature Conservancy of Florida to accept almost $1 million over three years to support establishment of the Estuary Program and development and approval of a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the watershed.

The Board also approved an agreement to pass these funds through to the Florida State University.  FSU Panama City will serve as host to the Estuary Program, providing a robust scientific and administrative infrastructure for the program.  FSU’s FCRC Consensus Center will initiate the Estuary Program stakeholder engagement and management structure.

The Bay County Commissioners also approved a draft amendment to the County’s RESTORE Act Direct Component (Pot 1) Multiyear Plan to provide $720,000 to FSU to further support the Estuary Program and plan development.  The Board initiated a 45-day public input period for the community to comment on the addition of the Estuary Program as a project in the Multiyear Plan.  The Bay County Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the Estuary Program at the meeting.

The Commissioners also passed a resolution to Embrace the Gulf in 2020, recognizing the environmental, economic and cultural importance of the Gulf of Mexico.  This recognition is an initiative of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.

The draft amendment to the County’s RESTORE Plan can be downloaded at https://tinyurl.com/BayMYPamend2.  The public is encouraged to provide comments on the draft amendment via email to RESTOREproposals@baycountyfl.gov, or mailing comments to RESTORE Act Direct Component, 840 W. 11th Street, Panama City, FL 32401.

If you would like to subscribe to Bay County’s RESTORE Act interested parties list, send an email to jmuller@baycountyfl.gov with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.  If you would like to subscribe to Bay County’s Estuary Program email list, send an email to BayEstuaryProgram@baycountyfl.gov with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.

Program Funding & Modeling

Initial funding for the St. Andrew/St. Joe Bays Estuary Program will be provided by The Nature Conservancy in Florida and a portion of Bay County’s RESTORE Act Direct Component (Pot 1) funds from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Modeled after the National Estuary Program, it will be a locally-driven effort to manage an estuary and its watershed.

Panhandle Estuary Programs

With the establishment of the St. Andrew/St. Joe Bays Estuary Program, estuary programs will be in place for the entire Western Panhandle, joining the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Program and the Pensacola/Perdido Bays Estuary Program.

The Estuary Program is designed to be a locally-driven effort to identify and solve the problems facing a bay and watershed, based on objective, scientific information. The program provides stakeholders with a permanent forum to come together to review information, agree on the problems, and work together to find solutions and funding to address those problems.

To be successful, a broad spectrum of our community must participate and demonstrate strong support for the program. The St. Andrew/St. Joe Bays system is central to our economy, our identity, and our way of life. Unlike other panhandle watersheds, the entire St. Andrew/St. Joe watershed is in Florida. Two-thirds of our watershed is in Bay County. We control the future of our bay.

Hosts, Groups & Subgroups

The Florida State University, Panama City campus, will serve as the host organization and will provide administrative and financial management support for the estuary program, along with initial program organizational support. A management group consisting of stakeholders will be established to direct the operations of the estuary program. A subgroup, made up of top officials from key local, federal, and state resource or decision-making organizations, will be the decision-making body.

Staffing

Staffing will include the program director, head scientist, outreach coordinator, and administrative support.