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Shoreline restoration project on Okaloosa Island

An Okaloosa County Park could become the site of a "living shoreline" project.
It's a plan to fight erosion without building seawalls or dredging sand.

Veteran's Park is on the north side of Okaloosa Island, near the Emerald Coast Convention Center.
Channel Three's Laura Hussey shows us what the project would look like.

Veteran's Park sits on Choctawhatchee Bay right next to Marler Park on Okaloosa Island. A county spokesperson says this shoreline is chronically eroded and that causes a couple of problems. First, it can threaten properties on land. Also they say people are losing a lot of chances for recreation.

Ava Arnold came to Okaloosa Island to visit family, and to enjoy the natural beauty of the Emerald Coast.

Ava "Oh, we absolutely love the ocean. We live in the mountains, so it's definitely a treat for us."        
Arnold hasn't yet seen the shoreline at Veteran's Park, but the plan to protect it could also make it visitor-friendly.
Coastal Management Coordinator, Jim Trifilio, says it starts with a series of oyster shell breakwaters, to absorb energy from the waves.

Jim Trifilio/Tourist Development Dept "And then the area closer to the shore, with that lower wave energy, now it's able to support growth of seagrass and other wetland type of plants."
The grasses help anchor the shoreline in place.
There could also be a floating breakwater dock like this one in Palm Beach.
Those plants in the middle aren't in boxes, they're growing up from the bottom of the bay.
And planners are considering a boardwalk stretching the length of the park.

Ava "I absolutely love it and on the way down I told my husband it would be so awesome if they had a boardwalk down here."
Project cost would range between three and five million dollars.
While it's eligible for bed tax funding, it has all the elements to qualify for restore act dollars or other BP funded grants.

The county administrator says having preliminary permitting can make it easier to get Restore Act funding or other such grants. In Okaloosa County, Laura Hussey, Channel 3 News.