Blue Flower

Program Overview

In June, 2017, the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Coalition was formed by execution of an intergovernmental agreement. This body was established to develop and direct a community-based, non-regulatory estuary program for the comprehensive and collaborative protection, management, and restoration of the Choctawhatchee Bay and its watershed.

These outcomes correspond with the interests of a diverse group of government agencies, natural resource trustee agencies, and other stakeholders, including those of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and the Gulf Consortium. We believe that as the program matures, through consensus-building and strategic partnerships, we will be able to make significant, measurable improvements, and provide long-term protections for both water quality and habitats in and around the Choctawhatchee Bay and watershed. Local communities and citizens recognize that water quality and natural habitat are critical for their own well-being, as well as for our area’s economic vitality. Those who are concerned for the health of Choctawhatchee Bay and the watershed, and who enjoy its resources and benefits are key stakeholders, holding an interest in seeking ways to protect its viability and restore it to conditions that optimize its potential.

Coalition Board Photo

Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary Coalition

Member Governments and Organizations


  • Honorable Mel Ponder, Okaloosa County Board of County Commissioners
  • Honorable Alan Bush, Washington County Board of County Commissioners
  • Honorable William “Boots” McCormick, Walton County Board of County Commissioners
  • Honorable Jeff Good, Holmes County Board of County Commissioners
  • Alison McDowell, Director, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance
  • Lisa Harris, Executive Director, Choctawhatchee, Pea, and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority
  • Randall Rowland, Chief, Installation Management Division, Eglin Air Force Base (Ex-officio)


Brian L. Underwood

Executive Director

  • Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Auburn University
  • Master of Public Administration degree from University of West Florida, with minor in Coastal Zone Studies
  • Holds professional certifications with the American Planning Association / American Institute of Certified Planners, and the Association of State Floodplain Managers
  • Employed previously for over three years as Deputy Director of Long-Range Planning with the City of Mobile, Alabama

Chelsea Conley

Public Outreach Specialist

  • Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Psychology from the University of South Florida
  • Working towards a Master of Fisheries and Aquatic Science degree from the University of Florida
  • Experience in environmental education in wildlife, mangrove/seagrass, and coral reef ecology
  • Experience in Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’s Fisheries Independent Monitoring Program