Reducing Our Risk

Ecosystem Restoration Support Organization, Inc.

Entry Overview

Between the early 70s and the late 1990s, the quality of Pensacola Bay declined dramatically due to the impact from industrial and domestic wastewater disposal, non point source runoff, and other anthropogenic impacts. In addition, the coverage of natural habitat such as sea grass beds and oyster reefs also declined significantly. Adding to the problem was the development of coastal areas which reduced available floodplain areas and increased risk of storm damage.

Beginning in 1999, Gulf Power and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s NW District (FDEP) partnered to develop a demonstration project that would begin to address many of these issues. Gulf Power donated $100k and the name Project GreenShores (PGS). FDEP leveraged the $100k investment into a total investment of ~$6,000,000 ($2,797,000 cash and $2,828,043 in kind donations). PGS includes 30 acres of oyster, salt marsh, and seagrass habitat along 2 miles of urban waterfront in downtown Pensacola that protects public infrastructure, provides habitat for birds, fish, oysters and crustaceans, improves water quality and provides recreational opportunities. 

General Info
Email :
Organization Address: 
411 E. Government St.
Pensacola, Florida 32502
United States
Population Impacted: 
Storm Surge
Identify the likelihood and frequency of this hazard : 
The Pensacola area is brushed or hit with a tropical storm on average every 2.29 years.
Explain how vulnerable the community is to this hazard: 
The coastal areas in the Pensacola area are highly developed. In addition, downtown Pensacola is seeing more frequent and severe flooding due to rainfall events.
List the potential affects of this hazard: 
Damage to private property, damage to public infrastructure (e.g., roads), loss of shoreline, impact to economy due to roads being closed/repaired, impact on emergency services.
Identify how sensitive the community is to these affects: 
Bayfront Parkway is a main transportation corridor for downtown Pensacola, in addition there are numerous homes and businesses in the area that are impacted by major storm events. During Hurricane Ivan (2004 hurricane directly hitting Pensacola) Bayfront Parkway was severely impacted except behind Project GreenShores which reduced the storm surge effects on the road.
Preparedness Goal: 
Install a "living shoreline" that helps mitigate damage from storm surges and wave action while creating vital marine habitat, improving water quality and educating citizens on natural shoreline protection
Implementing Actions: 
  • Created Oyster reefs constructed of ~41,000 tons of various materials including recycled concrete from an old NAS runway, Kentucky limestone, fossilized shell and recycled oyster shell
  • Created Salt marsh islands from 51,000 cubic yards of local dredge spoil from Escambia River and Bayou Texar dredging operations
  • Installed 90,000 total marsh plants that created flourishing salt marsh islands - 40,000 purchased from South Florida nursery for Site I (2003). FDEP Ecosystem Restoration Program nursery and volunteers grew 50,000 salt marsh plants for Site 2 (2007).
  • 10,000 m2 seagrass coverage Site I (from planting of 50 m2) (~1 acre)
  • Project has flourished and offered protection to Bayfront Parkway and Downtown Pensacola through Hurricanes Ivan (Strong Cat 3-2004), Dennis (Cat 3-2005), and numerous tropical storms proving its utilization in coastal resiliency
Describe Your Solution: 

Project GreenShores (PGS) (Sites 1 and 2) has resulted in a 30 acre living shoreline comprised of oyster reef, salt marsh and seagrass. PGS has survived two major hurricanes (Ivan in 2004 - one year after completion of Site 1 and Dennis in 2005). During these storms, the public infrastructure (Bayfront Parkway) directly behind the site was significantly less damaged than it was in adjacent unprotected areas. The site was built using raw materials including limestone, recycled concrete (from old runways), fossilized shell, sand from previous dredging operations and seagrass propogated at FDEP's Ecosystem Restoration Section lab. The majority of saltmarsh planted was grown and planted by community volunteers which provided an opportuntity for public education as to the value of these natural systems in protecting and enhancing Pensacola Bay's coastal areas.


Economic benefits can be associated with the environmental and social benefits identified below but to date these economic benefits have not been quantified. These include benefits to local businesses benefitting from visitors, increase fishing quality (major economic sector for the Pensacola area), and othe related economic boosts. In addition to those below another major economic benefit is:


  • Reduced damage to public infrastructure (Bayfront Parkway) during Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Dennis (2005) and several tropical storms.





  • 50% - 90% oyster coverage on reefs
  • 10,000 mof seagrass (expanded from an initial planting of 50 m2)
  • Salt marshes flourishing and growing (coming out from shoreline now versus just being on created islands)
  • Created excellent bird habitat with over 60 documented species of migratory/resident  birds – designated by Audubon as a stop on the Great Florida Birding Trail
  • Excellent marine habitat with documented populations of grey snapper, sheepshead, redfish, mullet, flounder, speckled trout, blue crab, and stone crab

Public Education

  • Over 5,000 students and community members educated at Project GreenShores
  • Featured as an eco-tourism destination by Visit Florida and the local tourism council
  • International delegate volunteer site through partnership with Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council (25 participants to date from Russia, Kenya, Iceland, Israel, Nepal, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Asia)
  • Used as a wetland training site for EPA and has been visited by Philippine and Indonesian representatives looking for ways to stabilize their shorelines


  • National Resource Extension Professionals Outstanding Team Award-Living Shorelines Northwest Florida (2010)
  • Francis M. Weston Audubon Conservation Award (2007)
  • EPA Gulf Guardian Award (2005)
  • Coastal America Partnership Award (2003)


  • Fishing
  • Crabbing
  • Kayak/canoeing
  • Snorkeling, SCUBA
  • Bird watching


  • Reduced damage to public infrastructure (Bayfront Parkway) during Hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Dennis (2005) and several tropical storms.
What were the negative or unintended impacts (if any) associated with implementing this solution? : 

No negative impacts have been identified.

Return on Investment: How much did it cost to implement these activities? How do your results above compare to this investment?: 

ROI was very good. The estimated cost for sites 1 and 2 are ~$6,000,000: Funded by both cash and in-kind donations. Approximately $2,797,000 cash and $2,828,043 through in-kind donations and material. When compared to the protection of public infrastructure and the prevention of repair / maintenance after storms (e.g., Hurricanes Ivan and Dennis), the improvement to Pensacola Bay water quality, the use of the site for recreation, and other factors, this project was a very sound investment.

Over 60 partners including: City of Pensacola, Escambia County, Gulf Power, NOAA, EPA Gulf of Mexico Program , National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Coastal Management Program, Ecosystem Restoration Support Organization, local businesses, citizens, school groups, scout groups including over 850 scouts donating over 2,500 hours 

Monitoring results and other information can be found at:

What are the main factors needed to successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?: 
  • Community education/involvement
  • Willing landowner (City of Pensacola owns the majority of submerged lands as well as several private individuals), all are very supportive of PGS
  • Build a collaborative partnership and leveage each partners skills and resources. For PGS, there were over 60 partners that donated cash, expertise, material and labor making this project affordable and possible.
Contest Info
Contest Name: 
Reducing Our Risk

Contest Partners

Contest Sponsors