The National Seashore is working on updating its long-term management plan and has presented four alternative styles for managing the park for the next 15 to 20 years. The park management has endorsed alternative 3 as its preferred plan, but some local fishermen are concerned that the sea grass bed protection zone part of the plan may hinder their ability to fish in the Intracoastal Waterway.
Brown said the plan recognizes the significance of the sea grass beds to the entire marine ecosystem because sea grass beds serve as a sanctuary for small fish to escape predators until they reach full growth. However, the present management plan and the proposed alternative 3 does give Brown the authority to close off sea grass areas to boaters in the event that those beds become damaged. He said closing a sea grass bed area was only one of many management tools that could be used to ensure the beds are protected and would only be implemented as a last resort.
“Folks that love to boat don’t want anything to hinder that access and neither do we,” he said. According to the proposed plan, alternative 3 would greatly enhance the management of natural resources by developing a marine management program.
Many residents have expressed concerns about whether alternative 3 would call for the road between Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach would be rebuilt if it is destroyed again by a hurricane. Brown said the plan did call for the road to be rebuilt if at all feasible.
To make comments on the proposed management plan, visit http://parkplanning.nps.gov/guis.
For more on this story, see the Dec. 15 issue of Navarre Press or subscribe online.