Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Acts to Preserve Sarasota Bay

Apr 5, 2017
Press Release
Bay Home to 1,400 Plants and Animals

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a strong advocate of local conservation and wildlife protection, announced today he has asked a congressional panel to help preserve Sarasota Bay and other national estuaries.

Sarasota Bay is one of only 28 ecosystems in the entire country that have been formally designated by Congress as an “estuary of national significance.”

Buchanan and a group of other bipartisan members of Congress sent a letter to the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies urging full funding for the nation’s 28 national estuaries.

National estuaries like Sarasota Bay “play a key role in implementing national policies that result in better, more cost-effective coastal management that benefits states and local communities,” the group wrote.

The federal National Estuary Program provides critical resources to protect and restore the country’s vital estuaries and vulnerable wildlife.

Upon sending the letter, Buchanan said: “Sarasota Bay plays a key role in the Suncoast’s thriving economy and serves as a habitat for countless plants and wildlife. I will continue to fight for our estuary so residents and visitors can enjoy the bay for decades to come.”

Sarasota Bay is home to more than 1,400 native species of diverse plants and animals and it contributes nearly $1.8 billion to Florida’s economy, according to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Estuaries, or bodies of water and their surrounding coastal habitats, are typically found where rivers flow into the open sea. They are home to some very unique plants and animals. They are also some of the most productive ecosystems in the world – many animal species rely on estuaries for primary sources of food, nesting and breeding.

Last year, President Obama signed into law a bill backed by Buchanan that reauthorized the National Estuary Program through 2021 and provides critical resources to protect and restore the country’s vital estuaries and vulnerable wildlife. It specifically authorizes $132.5 million over five years to help states and local partnerships develop and implement conservation and managements plans and address threats to estuaries.

Buchanan has an extensive record of preserving Florida’s waterways and pristine coastline. Earlier this year he co-chaired a bipartisan meeting of the 29-member Florida congressional delegation focused on combating red tide, toxic algae and examining other water quality issues. Additionally, the Congressman is a longtime opponent of drilling off the Gulf Coast. Last month Buchanan expressed his opposition to the Trump administration’s proposal to open up more than 70 million acres off the coast of Florida to oil and gas drilling over the next five years starting this August.

Full text of the letter can be found below.

March 30, 2017

The Honorable Ken Calvert                     
Chairman, Subcommittee on Interior            
Environment, and Related Agencies             
Committee on Appropriations                   
House of Representatives                      
Washington, D.C. 20515                              

The Honorable Betty McCollum
Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Interior
Environment, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515 

Dear Chairman Calvert and Ranking Member McCollum:

We are writing to thank you for your past support of the National Estuary Program (NEP), and ask you to continue to invest directly in the stewardship of our nation’s coasts by ensuring that each of the 28 NEPs in the field receives full funding in FY2018.

Each National Estuary Program:

  • Demonstrates real environmental results through on-the-ground habitat restoration and protection.
  • Reflects local environmental and economic priorities
  • Involves the community as equal partners and engages the public throughout the decision –making process
  • Demonstrates the ability to secure and leverage funds from multiple sources
  • Ensures decisions are based on the best science available
  • Builds on water quality control measures and tailors them to specific places and communities
  • Is non-regulatory

In recent years, NEPs have been on the front lines of issues that demand a scientifically informed, community-based approach. As you know, NEP reforms were made during the 114th Congress through S.1523, which created a competitive grant program to address urgent challenges. We are asking for an additional $5 million of funding to support competitive grants for qualifying NEPs.

As the health of our coastal ecosystems decline, NEPs work to ensure that federal agencies work together with state, regional, NGO and private partners to better manage ocean and coastal resources for the benefit of the nation and to reduce conflicts, redundancies, and inefficiencies that waste time and money. The people who live and work near and on our estuaries have the greatest stake in sound coastal management, best understand the unique challenges and opportunities in those places, and know the right stakeholders to engage in crafting durable and effective solutions. NEPs play a key role in implementing national policies that result in better, more cost-effective coastal management that benefits states and local communities. Thank you for your strong support of these programs, and for considering our request.