Panama City Field Office
Conserving the Nature of America


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Salt Marsh


Coastal Program

Coastal areas are vitally important to fish and wildlife. Coastal areas support 40 percent of the Service’s National Wildlife Refuges, 40 percent of the Federally-listed endangered species (including 75 percent of the listed mammals and birds), 50 percent of the Service’s fisheries activities, 25 percent of the Nation’s wetlands and at least 30 percent of North American wintering waterfowl.


St. Joe Bay
  Deer Lake
Photos: FWS


The Coastal Program in the Florida Panhandle began its work in 2001 to protect, restore and enhance coastal habitat. We serve 16 counties in northwest Florida, which include 250 miles of shore line along the Gulf of Mexico. This fringe of bays and estuaries supports hundreds of species of wildlife, including the federally protected Gulf sturgeon, Florida manatee, piping plover, beach mice and sea turtles. Coastal areas are the first line of defense against hurricanes and their good health greatly benefits people as well as wildlife.

We are emphasizing Living Shorelines (LSLs), a more natural shoreline protection approach that can include salt marsh, seagrass, oyster reef, tidal flat and dune habitats. These important components of the coastal environment perform valuable ecological services such as nutrient cycling, sediment stabilization, wave attenuation and nursery and foraging habitat for fish and invertebrates. Living Shorelines improve water quality, create habitat, and enhance natural processes.


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Last updated: April 17, 2018