The Nature Coast spans the Big Bend of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, ranging from Hernando to Wakulla County. The region contains one of North America’s most pristine coastlines, with extensive seagrass meadows, valuable recreational and commercial fisheries, and healthy wildlife populations including marine mammals (manatee, dolphin), diverse waterbirds, and sea turtles. The region also supports productive shellfish fisheries (shrimp, oyster) and a vibrant hard clam aquaculture industry.
The mission of the NCBS will be achieved using a multifaceted approach that will include:
- Increased collaboration among UF/IFAS, partner agencies and NGO’s in the region
- Development of research programs that address key uncertainties in natural resource management of freshwater, estuarine, and coastal terrestrial systems
- Improved visibility of IFAS’s natural resource programs via social media, web presence, and video
- Enhanced graduate and undergraduate opportunities in the region including research, field courses and extension activities
- Strengthened relationships among communities of the region with UF/IFAS, including local and county governments, economic development organizations, and industries (e.g., shellfish culture, commercial and recreational fisheries, ecotourism)
- Conduct focused research and outreach workshops that address resource issues of regional and national prominence and communicate these findings to the public through outreach events, social media, and coordination with IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant.
Our goals over the first five years are to:
- Develop research projects in the region involving agency cooperators and UF/IFAS that address wildlife conservation, fisheries, aquaculture, and sustainable human use of natural resources
- Prioritize coastal management issues and work with stakeholders and cooperators to select a signature area to focus research and extension engagement
- Form an Advisory Board for the NCBS that includes faculty, agency partners and members of the public
- Demonstrate public involvement with extension activities, and capture the capabilities of UF/IFAS to address economic and education needs of the region
- Construct a hatchery facility for shellfish research
- Partner with cooperators to secure a boat dock at the new site for overnight mooring of vessels
- Begin renovation/construction of facility for laboratory space and dorm rooms for students, visiting faculty and staff