Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan Bill Designates The Little Manatee River a National “Scenic” River

Oct 13, 2020
Press Release

BRADENTON, Fla – Congressman Vern Buchanan today introduced federal legislation to designate the Little Manatee River as a national “scenic” river.

Designating the river as scenic would add Little Manatee River to the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic River System, whose primary goal is to conserve free-flowing rivers across the United States.

The Loxahatchee River and the Wekiva River are the only rivers in Florida currently recognized under the federal program. 

Little Manatee River, one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in the state, begins in southeastern Hillsborough County and flows downstream into Tampa Bay and through Little Manatee River State Park. 

Buchanan said that the designation would protect this “special” river for public enjoyment without the fear of intrusive development. The designation ensures the river remains available for a full range of recreational activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, boating and fishing.

The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to safeguard rivers and encourage robust river management that promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.

“Protecting our precious natural resources should always be a top priority,” Buchanan said. “Our region is blessed with many natural treasures including Sarasota Bay, Emerson Point Preserve and Myakka River State Park. Designating the Little Manatee River will ensure that it is kept in its current pristine condition for generations to come.”

The Little Manatee Wild and Scenic River Act would formally designate the approximately 51-mile long segment of the river, beginning at its source in southeastern Hillsborough County flowing downstream to the point at which the river enters Tampa Bay, as a scenic river.

Once formally added to the National Park Service’s Wild and Scenic River System, the National Park Service would collaborate with local government officials in Florida to develop a management plan for the Little Manatee River. The management plan must include how the existing natural environment will be preserved including allowing for continued public use. The plan is designed to achieve the “goal of protecting and enhancing the values that caused it to be designated.”

Manatee County Commissioner Betsy Benac said, “The river is one of the most beautiful natural areas in the area, and with this designation, the outstanding scenic, recreational, fish and wildlife attributes will be protected for future generations. Thanks to Congressman Buchanan for his efforts to protect this special area.”

Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White said, “From canoeing and fishing for bass or panfish upriver to skiing and fishing for various saltwater species downriver, this natural treasure has much to offer in terms of recreation and scenic beauty. I have spent a lifetime enjoying all that this river has to offer and my hope is to see it preserved for many more generations of Hillsborough County residents to enjoy. We are blessed to have such a beautiful river right in our own backyard.”

The Little Manatee River is also recognized at the state level as an ‘Outstanding Florida Water’ and is one of the most pristine blackwater rivers in the state.

Buchanan has a long history fighting to protect water quality and the environment in Florida and elsewhere, including leading efforts in Congress to increase federal funding into red tide research and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

In 2019, Buchanan 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 was one of 38 Republicans to vote to increase funding for the National Estuary Program and evaluate the impact of climate change on estuaries.