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Taylor County--well-known to Floridians as home of Steinhatchee, a popular fishing and bay scalloping destination--recently received a boost thanks to a user survey led by Charles Sidman, Florida Sea Grant associate director of research, and Garin Davidson, University of Florida boating and waterway planning program.
The 2010 study, Planning for Waterway Access in Taylor County, Florida: Residents and Users Speak, helped the county receive at least $700,000 in funding to build or improve waterway access facilities. For a county whose economy thrives on nature-based recreation and tourism, access to safe, well-maintained boat ramps and parking facilities is critical.
Results of the study, conducted with Alan Hodges, IFAS Food and Resource Economics, and Taylor County Extension, show that public waterway access facilities sustain 158 jobs and contribute more than $10 million to the local economy. The study helped the county receive funding from state and federal agencies, and boosted efforts to construct a new, three-lane boat ramp with a floating dock system near the mouth of the Steinhatchee River, giving users quick access to the Gulf of Mexico.
Taylor County Administrator Jack Brown said, "This Florida Sea Grant study is timely. It confirms broad support from the public...and also supports our plans to expand our county's economic base by developing the sectors that depend on outdoor recreation and tourism."