By LEAH STRATMANN
The first meeting of the year for the Coastal Dune Lakes Advisory Board opened with Ken Sloan who was attending his last meeting as a board member saying what a pleasure it had been to serve on the board and offering to help in any way possible as a member of the community.
Board member Richard Bryan reported on progress in seeking special designation status for the lakes. “I made some phone calls and did some research on the Internet,” Bryan reported. “The Northwest Florida Aquatic Preserve designation has about the same amount of strength as the Outstanding Florida Waters designation which is body of water that touches a state park. The Department of Community Affairs (DCA) also has a program where they select two areas every three years and throw in some money and expertise to find the best management practices and restoration. Waterfronts Florida Partnerships Program is the name and the county would have to apply for consideration,” he said.
Bryan also found an international organization called Ramsar whose goal is preservation and one that could provide funds and high visibility for the lakes.
Chairman Marsha Anderson said the county has not yet given special designation status to the coastal dune lakes, but the Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is continuing to move forward on the issue.
“The goal is a stair step program that begins with the county, goes to the state where the organization has the support of State Rep. Marti Coley, and then we try for national resignation and then international status,” Anderson said.
“It wouldn’t take very long for one of these lakes to turn into a mud hole, so we need to look at the long run and realize that 20 years down the road we would like for these lakes to be there and as healthy as they are now,” Bryan noted.
Sara Kalinoski reported there were some AmeriCorps members at the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) and they are trying to help with the development of a tri-fold brochure that summarizes the important points about owning property adjacent to the lake.
“I think a simple brochure that Realtors can give to new owners will be more effective than directing owners to a web site,” Susan Paladini commented.
“We need to move this forward,” Anderson said. “We have been wrestling with this for some kind and in terms of getting the education out to the public, this is critical. Homeowners are clear cutting because they don’t know any better and want to improve their view.”
Since it may be some time before a tri-fold brochure might be a reality, it was decided a simple fact sheet could be distributed to title companies and Realtors to give to new owners of lake front property.
Paladini reported the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) has come back from DCA and they are questioning the definition of historical outfalls on the lakes. “Outfalls migrate from west to east and DCA is questioning how to define it. The management plan already defines historical outfalls,” Paladini noted.
Paladini also informed the board she would not seek a second term when her term expires in February. Her departure will leave two vacant positions on the board. Two new members, Richard Armstrong and George Bowen were approved by the BCC and were attending the meeting as board members for the first time.
Anderson noted that all suggestions and advisories from CDLAB that are to be taken to the BCC must first be run through public works or the planning department so the BCC can be provided with the most comprehensive information on each issue in advance of meetings.
Leah Stratmann may be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org