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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hilton of Sandestin Hosts Environmental Forum
By Sean Boone

The third annual Walton County Environmental Forum was held Nov. 16 at the Hilton Sandestin Beach and Golf Resort. The event, which is sponsored by the Walton Tourist Development Council, hosted numerous guest speakers from various local and regional environmental and community groups.

According to the TDC, the event’s purpose is to unite established groups to work and benefit the ecological wellbeing of Walton County.

Each speaker had five minutes to talk about their organization’s current environmental progress, concerns and future plans in Walton County.

Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance representative Brooke Saari said her group is currently working on numerous projects such as water quality monitoring, GIS mapping and has yet to require funding do to outside grants.

“Because of the numerous partnerships, we haven’t had to ask for any money, which has been great,” said Saari.

The forum was an all day event that included a networking lunch, video demonstration and an open forum discussion. “The event really helps us to know what other groups are doing around the area,” said Northwest Florida Management representative Lucinda Scott. “Our biggest benefit is the contacts.”

Some of the other organizations in attendance included: the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Audubon Society and the Coastal Dune Lake Advisory Board.

All Walton County Commissioners were invited to the event, but only Cindy Meadows of District 5 was able to attend.

“It always makes me really happy to see everyone come out who is part of making a big difference in the community,” said forum narrator and Walton Nature Based Tourism Committee member Randy Harelson. “I hope next year more government officials can show up to learn what is going on.”

The Walton Sun
Copyright 2007 The Walton Sun