DEP Awards Over $130,000 to Southeast Florida Communities for Water Quality and Coastal Access Improvements

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DEP Awards Over $130,000 to Southeast Florida Communities for Water Quality and Coastal Access Improvements

~Funding for water quality and ADA-accessible improvements~

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection has awarded Brevard, Indian River and Martin counties, as well as the city of Riviera Beach, with more than $130,000 in grants to fund coastal access and water quality improvement projects. These grants are part of the department’s Coastal Partnership Initiative.

“We are excited to provide this important funding for projects to improve Florida’s water quality and coastal access,” said DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein. “Ensuring Florida’s coastal resources are not just protected but accessible for all visitors is a priority. The department is always looking for opportunities to partner with local communities to make sure we’re Protecting Florida Together.”

Indian River County was awarded $50,000 to create a salt marsh creation and enhance habitats at the Jones’ Pier Conservation Area. The proposed project will improve water quality in the Indian River Lagoon by restoring and creating approximately 4.8 acres of saltmarsh wetlands and hydric hammock. Water from the lagoon will be pumped into the site to circulate through a diverse saltmarsh system, removing nutrients, suspended solids and other pollutants prior to discharge back into the lagoon. Additionally, the project includes creating native uplands to improve resilience and buffering of natural areas.

"The county is very excited to work with DEP on this innovative project," said Indian River County Asst. County Administrator Michael Zito. "The completed Jones’ Pier Conservation Area will be a wonderful amenity for our residents and tourists to enjoy, and the construction of the 4-acre salt marsh will be the focal point of this project. The wetland has been designed to provide diverse wildlife habitat, and will also yield water quality benefits to the Indian River Lagoon. We are grateful for the support of DEP and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program in facilitating this unique wetland project."

Martin County was awarded $50,000 to complete public access amenity updates at Clifton S. Perry Beach on Hutchinson Island. Updates include constructing an ADA-compliant, non-motorized watercraft launch, replacing 300 feet of deteriorating dock with a boardwalk over the Indian River Lagoon, and producing signage to educate visitors on the importance of mangroves, seagrass and manatees.

"The Coastal Partnership Initiative Grant is critical to helping Martin County complete construction of public access amenities at Clifton S. Perry Beach Preserve," said Martin County Board of County Commissioners Project Manager Michael A. Yustin. "These amenities will provide the public with access to a portion of the Indian River Lagoon DEP State Designated Paddling Trail and educational opportunities for local environmental programs."

Brevard County was awarded nearly $20,000 for the design and installation of a living shoreline along North Indian River Drive in Cocoa. The installation of native salt marsh vegetation and an oyster breakwater will help stabilize the shoreline and provide increased protection from erosion, enhance and restore estuary habitat, and improve water quality along the Indian River Lagoon. Additionally, educational signage will be installed at the site about the project and the benefits of natural resiliency for protection against storms and other erosive forces.

"Brevard County is excited to participate in this Coastal Partnership Initiative grant to showcase sustainable, nature-based shoreline stabilization at a highly visible historical landmark site," said Brevard County Natural Resources Management Department Director Virginia Barker. "The oyster breakwater and plantings will not only protect this beautiful old building and scenic drive, but also educate site visitors and passersby about using green infrastructure to prevent erosion."

The City of Riviera Beach was awarded more than $10,000 for ADA-compliant upgrades to improve coastal access for visitors to Bicentennial Park. Plans include purchasing two roll-out accessibility mats to accommodate disabled visitors and provide a continuous, unobstructed path to the water, purchasing three floating beach wheelchairs, and constructing a hurricane-rated beachfront kiosk to store the equipment.  

"We are very pleased and excited to have been awarded this grant," said Riviera Beach Community Redevelopment Agency Interim Executive Director Scott Evans. "It will enable us to fully open up the Bicentennial Park beach and provide waterfront access and activities for the disabled community throughout Riviera Beach and Palm Beach County."

The Coastal Partnership Initiative grant program promotes the protection and effective management of Florida’s coastal resources at the local level. It also provides support for innovative local coastal management projects in four program areas: resilient communities, public access, working waterfronts and coastal stewardship.

Through the Coastal Partnership Initiative, the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection's Florida Coastal Management Program makes federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration funds available on a competitive basis to Florida’s 35 coastal counties and the municipalities within their boundaries. Eligible entities may apply for grants for community projects such as habitat restoration, park planning and improvements, waterfront revitalization, and improving community resiliency to coastal hazards. Grant recipients are required to provide 100 percent (1 to 1) matching funds, which may be cash or in-kind.