Healthy, resilient bays and estuarine habitats that support native species, natural systems, recreation, fisheries and the economy, together with vibrant, resilient, and sustainable communities in the watershed that live in harmony with the needs of the estuary.


To collaborate—as representatives of private, public, and non-governmental stakeholders—to improve our common sense, science-based understanding of the needs of the estuary, and to develop, promote and implement projects that protect and restore the health of the bays.

Policy Board

The Policy Board is the final decision-making body and provides the overall direction of the program in the context of a community-supported, science-based effort, and make policy decisions on staffing, work plans, program priorities, budgets, and expenditures. It will develop a consensus in the context of a community-supported long-term vision of success. It will oversee the recruitment and hiring of the Estuary Program Executive Director and staff and will share authority for program administration with FSU Panama City. It will also appoint stakeholder representatives and experts to serve on the Management Council and make decisions on program priorities, budgets, expenditures and the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan. The Policy Board is supported by the Program Staff and the Management Council. 

Management Council

The Management Council will operate by consensus, and will work with staff and advisory committees to:

  • Develop a joint, science-based understanding of issues, including their root causes, affecting the health of the bays
  • Build consensus on priority issues
  • Identify and prioritize actions to address the issues, including projects, categories of projects and management strategies
  • Build consensus on a Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) for the bays and watershed
  • Inform and advise the Policy Board regarding science, issues, and priorities
  • Make recommendations to the Policy Board regarding issues, actions, the CCMP, budget and expenditures.
  • The Management Council shall have advisory authority and be governed by Florida Sunshine Law


Advisory Committees

There are three advisory committees for the Estuary Program that will be comprised of individuals from all sectors interested in making a difference in our Bays and Watersheds. These Advisory Committees will work toward developing the first Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) and move into supporting the implementation upon adoption. The Advisory Committees currently are Science & Technical Committee (STC), Community Action (CA) Committee, and the Development and Finance (DF) Committee. Each committee will focus on key issues and strategies and provide recommendations to the Management Council for review and input that will then move up to the Policy Board for final decisions.