08-02-2011, 01:26 AM #1
Walton County Eyeing Saltwater Fish Hatchery
August 01, 2011 3:03 PM
Angel McCurdy, Florida Freedom Newspapers
Walton County commissioners are exploring a multi-million dollar idea of developing a saltwater fish hatchery.
Commissioners will meet with officials with the Wildlife Foundation of Florida to find possible locations and discuss how to make the idea a reality.
“A hatchery would bring in more jobs, which will boost the economy,” said Commissioner Cecilia Jones. “It will also have an educational aspect to it. Through this, we can teach children to take care of their environment and to love their environment.”
Jones said the project hinges on the county getting money from BP to pay for it. The estimated cost of a hatchery is anywhere from $13 million to $30 million.
“It’s a multi-million dollar investment,” said Brett Boston, executive director of the Wildlife Foundation of Florida who is working with the county. “Through it there is the job component, the destination component and the education component.”
Boston said 39 percent of fishing done in the United State is done in Florida. However, the BP oil spill last year shocked the system.
Boston said a hatchery could help aid that economic hurt.
“We’ve been left with a reduction in what we can catch, which impacts the visitors coming here,” he said. “The county needs other tools to bring in what has been lost. The county is looking at restoration primarily and stock enhancement”
Jones envisions a central building in the county for the hatchery and said officials will work with other areas that are countering their BP fallouts with hatcheries.
“I really want to take a regional approach,” she said. “When you have something like the oil spill there are always repercussions years down the road. This might put us ahead of the game.”
08-02-2011, 09:35 AM #2
From Comm. C. Jones' office:
PLANT/FISH HATCHERY NRDA MEETING & TOUR
On Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 1:00 pm, Commissioner Cecilia Jones will be hosting a meeting with Brett Boston, the Executive Director of the Wildlife Foundation of Florida. The meeting will take place at the Walton County District 5 Office at 70 Logan Lane, Grayton Beach. We encourage the public to attend to discuss plant & fish restoration in Walton County. Join us for a tour of possible location sites immediately following the meeting.
10-12-2011, 06:18 AM #3
Fish Hatchery workshop is scehduled by Walton county for October 25 at 8:15am in DeFuniak Springs.
Sounds like a good idea, want to hear more details. Can one of you report back?
My questions include:
1) Do we get the BP money for it upfront or do we have a large initial financial outlay we may or may not get reimbursed for later?
2) What fish will we stock?
3) How do we protect the hatchery from future oil spills and continuing contamination from the Deepwater Spill?
4) How do we manage the hatchery to avoid upsetting balances in the already damaged and fragile ecosystem?
5) Will we tag the fish prior to release so they can be tracked and studied?
6) Can we build the facility to be as green as possible to reduce future operating costs (which I assume the county will be required to pay)?
7) Are the proposed locations publicly or privately owned?
8) Can we use local contractors so money and jobs go into the local economy instead of out of state/county?
Last edited by scooterbug44; 10-12-2011 at 11:53 AM.
10-12-2011, 04:15 PM #5
There now is $10 million now available to promote business development and research in eight Northwest Florida counties.
The first installment of $30 million in state general revenue funds to encourage innovation and economic diversification in counties affected by last year’s BP oil spill has arrived at the University of West Florida’s Office of Economic Development and Engagement (OEDE).
The OEDE announced Monday it was accepting proposals for grant funding from Okaloosa, Bay, Santa Rosa, Walton, Escambia, Wakulla, Gulf and Franklin counties.
The money is being provided through legislation sponsored by state Sen. Don Gaetz.
It gives Northwest Florida counties that suffered economic losses from the oil spill preferential treatment for funds. It will provide $30 million over three years as a competitive jump start.
Grant applications have been sent to local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, but Gaetz said any business or individual can apply.
“We’re looking to the chambers and EDOs because those are the groups who have long said they were ready with good projects, that they just needed to be allowed to compete fairly,” Gaetz said. “Here’s their chance to compete on an unlevel playing field with Northwest Florida having the big advantage.”
Larry Sassano, the executive director of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, said he has received the go-ahead from his executive board to submit proposals on behalf of two companies.
He said it is the EDC’s understanding that the grant funds will be provided to give companies “the final incentive needed to lure them” to the area.
“What the OEDE is looking for is innovation, diversification and the creation of a lot of high-paying jobs,” Sassano said.
The eight counties in the mix will compete with one another for funds, Sassano said.
The three-person OEDE will analyze the applications for “job creation impact” and approve or reject them, according to OEDE director Rick Harper.
Harper is the former director of UWF’s HAAS Center for Business Research and Economic Development. His associate directors at OEDE are Bruce Harris and Phyllis Pooley.
“We will base our decisions on the worthiness of each proposal,” Harper said.
Gaetz said he lobbied for Harper to head the OEDE because he and his team are recognized regionally as economic development gurus and nationally as the premier authorities on the economic impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“I wanted somebody who lives and breathes the Northwest Florida economy making these decisions,” Gaetz said.
The state money will fund two grant programs, according to an OEDE news release.
One will “supplement” incentives to get medium or large businesses to locate or expand their operations. The other will provide funds to businesses “likely to serve as catalysts for growth of existing industry,” the release said.
“This isn’t a candy store in which people just get $100,000 or $1 million so their brother-in-law can invent connector valves,” Gaetz said. “This has to do with the quality of the proposal and its ability to diversify the economy and create good jobs.”
Gaetz said rural areas such as Wakulla, Gulf and Franklin counties will be given no competitive advantage over more developed Okaloosa, Escambia, Bay, Santa Rosa and Walton. Neither would the larger counties necessarily be favored, he said.
“The governor and Legislature stepped up to provide these funds as an incentive to economic diversity. Now it’s up to the local communities to step up,” Gaetz said. “If county A does not take this seriously, county B may well get a disproportionate share of the dollars.”
Tom McLaughlin, Florida Freedom Newspapers
11-01-2011, 12:19 PM #7
At the workshop it was revealed that there had been preliminary discussion on locating the hatchery on a 30-acre property directly on Churchill Bayou that Northwest Florida State College is leasing from the state.
11-07-2011, 07:31 PM #8
Thanks Ms. Nist!
Officials approve letter and resolution for fish hatchery
By DOTTY NIST
Jobs, education, enhancement of tourism and recreation are being highlighted as some of the benefits of establishing a fish hatchery and marine plant nursery in Walton County.
Brett Boston, executive director for the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, addressed the Walton County Board of County Commissioners at a special meeting on Oct. 28 at the Walton County Courthouse, presenting information on the possibility of a local fish hatchery/marine plant nursery facility.
Boston explained that his organization is the nonprofit arm of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and represents the latter organization on hatchery initiatives across the state, working on public/private partnerships to put these facilities in place and provide for their operation. He also referred to the facilities as marine enhancement centers.
For over three years, he told the commissioners, the Wildlife Foundation of Florida has been working to assemble a network of hatcheries in Florida, with each facility operating with the support of local partners. There is a focus not only on the enhancement of native fish populations but on the marine plants that are such an important part of their habitat. These plants, Boston explained, are key to current restoration efforts in the gulf.
The reason for setting up a network of these facilities, Boston said, is that many Florida fish are very specialized in their genetic composition and behavior. It is generally not easy to produce fish in one area of the state and successfully move them to another area, he commented.
Therefore, he said, his organization has been working for a number of years on acquiring land in many areas of the state, along with doing engineering and design for these facilities.
Recently Walton County requested that Boston put together a cooperative partnership to examine the possibility of a hatchery/marine plant nursery or marine enhancement center in the county.
Working with Walton County, Northwest Florida State College, the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, and other partners, design concepts for a Walton County Marine Enhancement Center are underway and possible locations for the facility have been investigated, Boston commented. There has been discussion, he added, on how the partners could share space at the facility, on an “integrated working concept,” and on how to proceed with the initiative if county officials were to make the decision to do so.
He said a facility of approximately 60,000 square feet is envisioned, with a focus on greenhouses for production of marine plants for restoration.
“We don’t have a major nursery for the restoration efforts currently underway in the gulf, particularly for marine plants,” Boston told the commissioners. He noted that seagrass and other marine plants have been “really hard to come by,” in the current endeavor to restore the gulf in the wake of the BP oil spill.
Boston explained that marine enhancement centers also rely on plants for filtration of the hatchery effluent. Water coming from the hatcheries’ plant filtration system is then used for growing plants, he noted.
“It’s really an interesting recycling system, very green, and it gives us the plants we need to restore the fishery so we have the habitat out there for those juvenile fish that we might release to grow in,” Boston commented.
He said the college had requested 4,000 square feet at the facility for lab space in which water quality monitoring would take place. This would provide the capability for water quality monitoring within Walton County, Boston noted. He said the college had also requested space for a reef structure in connection with an oyster shell recycling effort that is underway, in which shells are collected from restaurants and other sources. The shells, he explained, are used for habitat restoration.
Likely fish species to be raised in the Walton County hatchery would be red snapper, red drum, and sea trout, and it would also be possible to raise gulf flounder, Boston said. These are recreational sports species that could be released for catch, he commented.
He revealed that there had been preliminary discussion with Northwest Florida State College about siting the Marine Enhancement Center on a 30-acre property directly on Churchill Bayou that the college has leased from the state. Boston said it would be possible to locate a very nice plant growing area on the south side of the property. The property features a natural drain area to the bayou that would be capable of being restored and put “back in shape,” he noted.
Boston said a plant nursery on the property could be very important in providing marine plants for restoration to counties in the region and to the state.
He told the commissioners that his organization has a standard hatchery design that is very modular and can be modified to suit any particular site.
District 5 Commissioner Cecilia Jones asked Boston how many jobs the Marine Enhancement Center would produce.
He responded that he had requested that an economist begin a study to determine that. However, basing his answer on a similar facility in Pensacola, he estimated a minimum of 100 jobs, not counting those associated with the construction of the center.
“You can easily look at 100 sustainable jobs,” Boston told Jones….
Read the full story in the November 3, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze.
05-10-2012, 09:57 PM #9
Fish hatchery DENIED by BP - Walton gets stiff arm.
Other projects up for consideration for Walton County include stormwater retrofits, scallop enhancement, eliminating light pollution for turtles, and a fishing pier, among others.
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