Beaches of sugar-like white sand hem this enclave of "small-town flavor and local culture" that is located on the Florida Panhandle between Tallahassee and Panama City, along an otherwise overdeveloped coastline. While this section of the Gulf Coast has not faced immediate damage from the BP oil spill, it may see long-term ecological impacts.
Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:
"'Forgotten Coast' tag is pretty accurate. Area has not endured the tourism pressures of much of the rest of the Gulf Coast. It doesn't feel like pink, touristy Florida. Good local food is available and development remains appropriate in scale."
"Has become increasingly gentrified over the last twenty years, but it still maintains a high level of social/cultural integrity. Thanks to local environmental NGOs and the Marine Research Station, visitors have opportunities to become informed."
"Cedar Key at the far south end of the region is a remarkable relic of Old Florida. It has a laid-back feel, and it offers lots of great architecture and wildlife. The BP oil leak has the potential to devastate this region, both culturally and environmentally. For now, however, it retains a high degree of integrity in both areas."
"Facing new growth pressures. The new Panama City airport will bring new pressures to the region. Unknown: oil spill impact."