Indian Bayou Wetlands


The BFA engages citizens to learn the root causes, remedies, and long-term management to return local wetlands to healthy functioning. Citizens can educate elected officials to make it happen.

The Problem

The Pensacola/Escambia Bay System was once known for its clear waters, mosaics of seagrass beds on white sandy bottoms and its abundant fishery. Changes in habitat and water quality have resulted in fish kills which put the dying bay on the map in the 1970s.

The Pensacola Bay System was historically known for its species diversity and high productivity in the seafood industry. The white, brown, and pink shrimp commercial landings dropped from 60,000 lbs/yr in the early 1960s to less than 20,000 lbs/yr by the early 1970s. Fish kills were a common occurrence especially in the area bayous.

Changes in the landscape are continuing to cause changes in the bay ecosystem. The table shows the loss of habitat over decades.



Acres Lost




Tidal Wetland



Seagrass Beds



Oyster Reefs



Source: Draft Pensacola Bay System Surface Watershed Characterization, Northwest Florida Water Management District, December 2016.

About Indian Bayou

Indian Bayou is a tidal wetland system and one of many tributaries entering the Escambia Bay System. Indian Bayou is located on the northwest side of the peninsula between Escambia and Blackwater Bays that forms Garcon Point. The Indian Bayou Watershed is roughly 3,500 acres, with most of the system considered rural and in a natural state. Two areas within the watershed are densely populated. Some of the residences are on sewer but the majority are on septic.
The development of Interstate 10 bifurcated the bayou, connecting the watershed through a box culvert. The remainder of the watershed has been intersected by road placement. Residents living in the developed areas with waterfront property on Indian Bayou noticed the water clouded by a reddish sediment.
Studies subsequently identified one-mile long San Juan Road, never paved. It is continually maintained with red clay which packs well to a hard surface even though there are no houses along the entire length of it. During heavy rain events, such as in 2017 when Pensacola received 30” of additional rain, large plumes of runoff were observed in the bayou.
Subsequent studies by students from UWF, measured and reported sedimentation at many points in the bayou. Other studies of seagrass beds and wildlife demonstrated negative impacts of the sedimentation on seagrass bed cover and the wildlife that utilize the seagrass beds such as the Saltmarsh topminnow.

Citizen Action for Indian Bayou Restoration

BFA is educating citizen volunteers to monitor and sample what is happening in Indian Bayou. Previous studies by students and professors at UWF helped develop the methodology for monitoring.

Here is what you can help the BFA accomplish to document what is happening to the bayou and lay the foundation for citizen action about the entire watershed.

  • Conduct transect sampling in the bayou
  • Install sediment pins
  • Install erosion and depositional chains
  • Conduct sand, silt, and clay analyses
  • Install rain gauges to quantity sediment after a rain event
  • Conduct ongoing water quality monitoring

If  you would like to volunteer for a project please fill out the form below

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