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St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program


St. Andrew & St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program

St. Andrew Bay, a 69,000-acre estuary, is one of the most biologically diverse bays in North America and St. Joseph Bay has the richest and most abundant concentrations of marine grasses along the Northwest Florida coast. The bays are an essential resource to area maritime and naval operations, tourism and recreation.

Bay County and Florida State University are partnering to establish the St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program. Over the longer term, this program will help provide for the health, enhancement and protection of the Estuary through the development and implementation a plan of action for these valuable resources.

Housed on the FSU Panama City campus, the St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bay Estuary Program will be modeled after the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, and is funded by The Nature Conservancy, Bay County, Florida State University Panama City, and the Florida State University Consensus Center.

"The creation of the St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program, like others in the Florida Panhandle, is a testament to the commitment and engagement of local communities to protect the invaluable resources the Estuary provides."—Andrea Graves, marine project coordinator, The Nature Conservancy in Florida

St. Andrew Bay

A 69,000-acre estuary, is one of the most biologically diverse bays in North America and St. Joseph Bay has the richest and most abundant concentrations of marine grasses along the Northwest Florida coast. The bays are also an essential resource to area maritime and naval operations as well as tourism. 

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Regional Programs

The St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays Estuary Program completes estuary programs for the entire western Panhandle, joining the Pensacola/Perdido Bays Estuary Program Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Program and the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative.

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Community-driven effort

The Estuary Program is designed to be a community and citizen driven effort to work with stakeholders and the public to identify and solve the problems facing the Bays, based on objective, scientific information. It will become a permanent forum that will explore estuary issues, and build consensus on actions and solutions.

Central to the regional economy

The St. Andrew and St. Joseph Bays Estuary system on the Gulf of Mexico is central to our maritime and tourist economy, our identity and heritage, and our way of life. Unlike other panhandle watersheds, the entire St. Andrew and St. Joseph watershed is in Florida primarily in Bay and Gulf counties, the watershed also includes portions of Washington, Walton, Jackson, and Calhoun counties.