By DOTTY NIST
County commissioners are scheduled to determine priorities for projects on Walton County’s “wish list” for funding by BP.
These are projects proposed for funding in order to address natural resource losses suffered by the public as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The prioritization is part of the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process, which is being conducted under regulations developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
On May 24, law firms representing Walton County for claims related to the incident hosted two workshops to take public input on proposed NRDA projects. Discussion had included a list of projects proposed for funding through the early restoration monies. The list had been submitted by Walton County on May 17. Among those funding proposals were a fishing pier, the county’s Habitat Conservation Plan, artificial reef construction, dune monitoring and restoration, water quality monitoring/restoration of the 15 coastal dune lakes, sea turtle monitoring/population restoration, shorebird monitoring and habitat/population restoration, land acquisition/dune walkovers, water quality monitoring/restoration of Choctawhatchee Bay, and beach nourishment. Also proposed were infrastructure projects to offset water quality impacts, including stormwater upgrade retrofits, stream and shoreline protection, and wetland restoration.
At the close of the workshops, citizens were told that at least one additional worshop would be scheduled, but this has not occurred. However, public comment will be possible when commissioners take up the matter as part of their regular meeting on Aug. 9.
At the July 26 Walton County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting, County Administrator Greg Kisela reported that the state had required additional project proposals to be added to Walton County’s list of projects, and that commissioners would be required to set project priorities. He recommended putting the matter on the agenda for the Aug. 9 BCC meeting, and the commissioners agreed.
The list of projects may be viewed on the Walton County web site, www.co.walton.fl.us, under the heading “NRDA projects.”
The Aug. 9 BCC meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. The South Walton Courthouse Annex is the location.