Five Star Restoration
To help promote conservation efforts, Gulf Power participates in the Five Star Restoration Program, a partnership among Southern Company, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the National Association of Counties and the Wildlife Habitat Council. This partnership supports water resource stewardship through hands-on community involvement and education.
Through the Five Star Restoration program, we have supported 11 water restoration projects in Northwest Florida involving 46 different organizations, including government and non-profit agencies, schools and community groups. Some of the Florida projects include Project GreenShores in Pensacola, Deadman's Island in Gulf Breeze, and Renew Our Rivers efforts in Bay, Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
Gulf Power may have planted the first seeds for Project GreenShores, but it was strong community partnerships and shared vision that created the 30-acre marsh ecosystem and oyster reef breakwater along the shore of Pensacola Bay close to downtown Pensacola, Fla.
The goal of Project GreenShores was to create a habitat-rich, educational shoreline and water-quality restoration site to serve as a model for other disturbed areas of estuarine shoreline. Gulf Power donated $150,000 for the project, as well as countless employee volunteer hours.
Thousands of tons of rocks and oyster shells formed the foundations for oyster breakwaters, which were colonized to form a living oyster reef. Each oyster can filter 30-50 gallons of water per day.
Volunteers planted marsh and spartina grasses—semi-emergent grass with a deep root network—that help stabilize the soils and remove nutrients from stormwater runoff on the islands behind the breakwaters.
A Five Star Restoration grant seeded Phase II of Project GreenShores, which extends farther west of the original Project GreenShores.
This transformed urban coastline is part of the Great North American Birding Trail and has received numerous honors, including a Coastal America Partnership Award by the U.S. Navy and the Gulf Guardian Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Gulf of Mexico Program.
Deadman's Island, an iconic refuge that protects the north shoreline of Gulf Breeze, was disappearing into Pensacola Bay. Decades of wind and waves were tearing apart a piece of cultural history and a precious natural resource.
This landmark provides a critical habitat for marine life and shorebirds—migratory birds, coastal marine oak and salt marsh are all prominent on the island.
The City of Gulf Breeze—partnering with the state, the University of West Florida, school districts of Santa Rosa and Escambia county, Fla., and local volunteers—received two Five Star Restoration grants to help restore, rebuild and protect Deadman's Island.
In addition to the grant funding, Gulf Power employees volunteered to load recycled oyster shells into unique structures made of stackable limestone that were later sunk into areas ringing the island.
This produced a 1,240-foot natural oyster reef breakwater that reduces wave action and helps protect the shoreline. A growing network of planted salt marsh grasses help stabilize the shoreline and provide habitat for native marine life and nesting shorebirds.
Renew Our Rivers
Gulf Power employees targeted storm debris and other coastal clutter when they joined the Southern Company Renew Our Rivers campaign in 2007. Renew our Rivers is a volunteer program that removes debris from rivers and other waterways, and is one of the Southeast's largest waterway clean-up efforts.
Gulf Power employee volunteers patrolled seashores in national and state parks for debris strewn ashore by tides and shifting currents. It wasn't the typical litter left by tourists and other beachgoers. Employees recovered everything from construction lumber and insulation to TVs and carpeting. In three years, these volunteers removed more than 20 tons of debris from Gulf Islands National Seashore, Perdido Key State Recreation Area and St. Andrew Bay.
Employees also partnered with Friends of St. Andrew Bay in Bay County, Fla. to clear bay areas of debris left behind by years of neglect.