Escambia awarded $500,000 for Perdido Key restoration

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is awarding approximately $500,000 in grant funding to Escambia County for the Perdido Key Dune Restoration project. The project will plant native dune vegetation across roughly 20 acres of dune habitat along 6 miles of Perdido Key, restoring habitat used by the federally endangered Perdido Key Beach Mouse.

“We are pleased to partner with Escambia County to re-establish vegetation along the dunes at Perdido Key,” DEP Deputy Secretary Drew Bartlett said. “Restoration efforts like this help ensure continued protection and enjoyment of Florida’s unique natural resources and ecosystems.”

Perdido Key beach dunes (DEP/Special to The Pulse)

“This is a wonderful example of what we can accomplish through cooperation and collaboration,” Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill said. “With this project, DEP and Escambia County are not only enabling the property owners to repair the harm done in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy, but improving the resiliency of the island to natural disasters. Persistent efforts to implement ‘intelligent stewardship’ projects like this can delay the need for artificial beach nourishment, potentially permanently.”

The Perdido Key Dune Restoration project begins 2.2 miles east of Perdido Pass at the Florida/Alabama state line and extends approximately 6 miles to the east. The restoration work will consist of planting native dune vegetation, such as sea oats, panic grasses, cord grasses, sea purslane and beach elder, approximately 20-60 feet seaward of the primary dune to provide a buffer and enhance dune habitat. In addition, gaps in existing dunes will be revegetated to provide a continuous dune structure. The project will be conducted in a way that minimizes potential disturbance to birds, sea turtles and other wildlife in the area.

Funding was received as part of an early restoration settlement to offset injury to natural resources from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. As a result of the oil spill and related response activities, dune habitat in Florida’s Panhandle was adversely impacted. DEP and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in conjunction with select Federal agencies, are responsible for restoring the natural resources injured by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.