©Barbara Albrecht

Approximately two years ago, the folks living in Monterey Shores noticed their small beautiful bayou would turn red from clay run-off every time it rained.

Road expansion activities nearby seemed to be the source of the problem. Citizens asked for help: from their county; their elected official’s seat was empty; from the state Dept. of Environmental Protection; from the state Water Management District; from the Dept. of Transportation; and from anyone who would listen.

BFA Board members were aware of the bayou and its condition and sought a small grant from Patagonia (clothing) to help the citizenry protect their resource.

The outcry from citizens during rain events seemed to be falling on deaf ears until a local land use attorney, Will Dunaway (Clark Partington) agreed to participate and represent the stakeholders.

By October 2017, a meeting arranged by Santa Rosa County (SRC) with the stakeholders, FDEP, WMD & FDOT at the behest of attorney Dunaway afforded the community the first opportunity to share their concerns and ask questions.

Fast forward six months and little has occurred. The $38.57 M FDOT road expansion project is close to being finished.

The FDEP has taken the lead on oversight; SRC has developed turbidity and erosion control and monitoring plans – which will come in handy as FDOT continues to expand the interstate eastward; and a study conducted by an FDEP geologist in Nov 2017 indicates that there was no impact to the bayou from all the sediments.

The Patagonia Grant has become a hands-on opportunity to integrate critical thinking with scientific oversight and an environmental knowledge for area residents, interested citizens and students.

The funding provides the opportunity to enhance learning through hands-on involvement with actual community based relevant monitoring for the area resources.

Similarly, the Escambia County Restore Project, Revitalization of Carpenter Creek and Bayou Texar, was developed to provide a long-term platform for area citizens, students, and elected officials to learn about watersheds, stormwater run-off, erosion control, sedimentation, riparian zones, flood plains, native and invasive plants, creek crossings, choke points and past engineering mistakes – to restore this small urban watershed to a healthy and flourishing creek and bayou system.

By Barbara Albrecht